Football

Allegri thanks Mandzukic for sending-off

Juventus more focused after 
reducing to 10 men, says coach

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri thanked his own player for getting sent off in the first half of their Serie A match at Udinese yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Juve forward Mario Mandzukic was dismissed in the 25th minute when Juve were leading 2-1 - and the Serie A champions went on to win 6-2 without him.

Allegri said the Croat's dismissal roused Juventus, who had taken just one point from their previous two league games.

"There was a good response from the boys. It wasn't easy," said Allegri.

"I want to thank Mandzukic because we needed to play a match like this with 10 men.

"We needed to get back to winning games by defending and suffering for the result."

The coach said with a smile that he had already been thinking about resting the striker for Juve's next match anyway, even before he had been sent off.

Mandzukic went down under a challenge from Ali Adnan and appealed for a penalty, which annoyed the Iraqi and led to a clash between the pair.

Both were booked but Mandzukic protested angrily to the referee and was immediately sent off.

I want to thank because we needed to play a match like this with 10 men... Down to 10 men, the team were much more focused. Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri on Mario Mandzukic, who was sent off

Allegri added: "Over the last two games, we had decent performances, but we needed something like this.

"Down to 10 men, the team were much more focused.

TURNING POINT

"This was a turning point in the championship. A negative result would have been hard to swallow."

Juventus secured the win, thanks to Sami Khedira's first hat-trick.

Stipe Perica opened accounts for hosts Udinese after eight minutes. But a Samir own goal after 14 minutes and a Khedira strike got the Turin giants back in front within six minutes.

After Mandzukic's red card, Udinese equalised with Danilo's header, but it was Juventus all the way in the second half with a Daniele Rugani header on 52 minutes, followed by two more from Khedira, with Miralem Pjanic adding a sixth in the final minute.

"It's the first hat-trick of my career, so that's great, but above all, I'm happy with the win," said the Germany international.

"It's always difficult for Juventus when we're not winning, especially after Mario's red card. It was not easy for us, but we are still one of the best teams in Europe and we proved that today."

Juventus remain joint third with Lazio who beat Cagliari 3-0, but are just a point behind second-placed Inter Milan and three adrift of leaders Napoli, who have 25 points from nine games. - WIRE SERVICES

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