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Soccer-Vidal hat-trick eases Juve's qualification fears

Reuters

(Writes through with quotes, detail)

* Chilean scores twice from spot as Juve go second

* Conte's side need point from final trip to Galatasaray

TURIN, Italy, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Chilean Arturo Vidal found the perfect time to score his first ever hat-trick to lead Juventus to a 3-1 victory over FC Copenhagen on Wednesday that eased the Old Lady's Champions League headache.

Juve went into the home game with just three points from four games - their worst ever start to a Champions League group campaign - and defeat would have ended their interest in this season's competition.

But midfielder Vidal kept his cool to convert two penalties and head a deft third as the Italian champions climbed to second in Group B and eliminated Copenhagen from the Champions League.

Antonio Conte's side are in control of their fate, but they still face a tricky trip to Istanbul to take on third-placed Galatasaray in the final group game on Dec. 10, when a place in the last 16 will be the prize for both teams. Juve need to avoid defeat to progress.

"This year we've made life difficult for ourselves because in the previous matches against Copenhagen and Galatasaray we deserved to win and if we had done so we'd already be qualified," Conte told Sky Sports Italia.

"Instead we're going to Istanbul with it all to play for and in a really hostile environment. However, we've put ourselves in a good position and we need to take advantage of it."

Juventus dominated but were stodgy in the first half. They were given a helping hand in the 29th minute by Copenhagen full-back Lars Jacobsen, who under pressure from Paul Pogba almost caught a chipped pass in his own area and gave away a silly penalty, which Vidal struck well past Johan Wiland.

Olof Mellberg equalised for the visitors in the 56th minute with a smart volleyed finish after a long throw caused confusion in the hosts' defence.

The goal sparked fears among Juve fans that there would be a repeat of the mix-ups that saw them only draw in previous matches with Galatasaray and Copenhagen despite their superiority.

However, Swedish defender Mellberg turned villain four minutes later, clumsily bringing down Fernando Llorente in the area and Vidal slotted the ball into the same corner of Johan Niland's net.

"When I lined up for the second penalty I looked at the goalkeeper and saw that he had gone a bit towards the right, and I decided to shoot in the same spot," Vidal told Sky Sports Italia.

"It's the first time I've scored three goals in a match in my career so I'm happy, especially because we won."

Vidal completed his hat-trick in the 63rd minute, meeting Pogba's clipped cross and guiding a header back across the goal and off the underside of the bar to seal a huge win.

Vidal's haul was also the first hat-trick by a Juventus player in a home Champions League game since Alessandro Del Piero's treble over Monaco in 1998.

Copenhagen host group winners Real Madrid in their final game on Dec. 10 but cannot progress to the knockout stage even if they beat the Spanish giants, as they have inferior head-to-head records against both Juventus and Galatasaray.

"I feel quite bitter right now. I feel we could have got more out of this match," Copenhagen forward Nicolai Jorgensen said. "I am annoyed by the mistakes we made in defence, but we also created too few opportunities in attack."

(Reporting by Terry Daley, editing by Stephen Wood)

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