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Soccer-Vidal vital for Juve's Champions League hopes

Reuters

TURIN, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Arturo Vidal walked a yellow card tightrope against Copenhagen, knowing a booking would rule him out of their last Champions League group game, but the Juventus midfielder stayed on the straight and narrow, scoring a hat-trick to put them within a point of the last 16.

Juve's 3-1 victory on Wednesday means they need only a draw at Galatasaray on Dec. 10 to progress, a stunning turnaround after their worst ever start to a Champions League group campaign saw them take three points from four games.

Vidal, who's place in the team had been in doubt due to a previous yellow card, kept his cool to convert two penalties and head a deft third as Juve climbed to second in Group B and eliminated Copenhagen.

"I'm taking the ball back home," said Vidal, who left the field to a rapturous ovation. "It'll be a gift for my son so I can show him when I played the game.

"I was a bit worried about being booked in view of the next match against Galatasaray, which is a big game for us," admitted Vidal afterwards.

After opening the scoring with a first-half penalty he was ice cool again from the spot on the hour to put his side back in the lead after they gave away a cheap equaliser. His superb header sealed the three points.

The 26-year-old took his tally to five goals in the group campaign and his eye for goal has made him a huge favourite with the home fans since signing from Bayer Leverkusen in 2011.

However, his ability to slot in all over the field has been equally important to the Italian champions. Vidal has played in just about every position on the pitch, and at the weekend played in defence as an injury-hit Juve won 2-0 at Livorno.

"I've never played in goal before but if the manager wants me to play in goal I'll give it a go!" he joked.

Coach Antonio Conte may have had some trepidation about starting Vidal on Wednesday, knowing that qualification for the last 16 would probably come down to the last game against Galatasaray, but in the end he decided he needed his cut and thrust to break down a resilient Copenhagen side.

"We're not going to Istanbul to draw, we are going there to win," said Conte.

"We are incapable of sitting back and waiting for our opponents. We took the game to Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Chelsea away from home, and we'll be doing the same there. That is beyond doubt."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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