MILAN (Reuters) - Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri thanked his own player for getting sent off in the first half of their Serie A match at Udinese on Sunday.
Juve forward Mario Mandzukic was dismissed in the 25th minute when Juve were winning 2-1 — and the Serie A champions went on to complete a 6-2 win without him.
Allegri said the Croat’s dismissal roused Juventus, who had taken just one point from their previous two league games.
“I want to thank him because we needed to play a match like this with 10 men,” said Allegri. “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.
Juventus, third on 22 points, were able to cut the gap between themselves and leaders Napoli to three points after Napoli’s 0-0 draw with Inter Milan on Saturday.
“This was a key moment in the season as it was a chance to get nearer the leaders,” said Allegri. “A negative result today would’ve been really difficult to digest.”
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ian Chadband