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Millennium Post

Italian job done!

Italian job done!
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Strikes in either half from Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella earned Juventus a comfortable 2-0 win over Celtic in their Champions League last 16 second leg and a place in the quarter finals for the first time in seven years here Wednesday.

Trailing 3-0 from a disastrous first leg at Celtic Park last month, the Scottish champions were left needing a “minor miracle”, in the words of manager Neil Lennon, if they were to cause a huge upset at Juventus Stadium.

But despite a positive Celtic performance and several clear-cut chances in the opening half, the Hoops never posed a real threat to the Italian champions, who will now relish a first appearance in the last eight since their exit to Arsenal in 2006.

After a nervous start, Juve showed the first threatening signs on 13 minutes when Celtic ‘keeper Fraser Forster was forced out to block as Fabio Quagliarella threatened to pounce on midfielder Paul Pogba’s superb through ball.

Celtic were pressing high up the park and forcing Juve to defend in numbers, however the visitors were often found wanting in a midfield marshalled by 19-year-old Pogba and veteran Andrea Pirlo.

Celtic’s first real chance came on 22 minutes when Kris Commons found Joe Ledley in space but the midfielder’s shot was wide.

Two minutes later Federico Peluso robbed striker Gary Hooper and fed Quagliarella to the left of goal. When Forster failed to hold the Italian’s shot, Matri ran in to sweep the ball home.

Celtic regrouped and minutes later Juve were indebted to Gianluigi Buffon’s reflexes after the ‘keeper dived to palm away a Commons shot which had deflected off Hooper’s boot.

At the other end Arturo Vidal wasted a great chance to double Juve’s lead, striking Quagliarella’s crossfield ball first-time when he had time to control and shoot.

Celtic were pouring forward at every possible opportunity but Hooper missed the chance of the match for the visitors when he failed to toe-poke Samaras’s shot across goal past a beaten Buffon.

On 49 minutes Celtic’s defence was static when a Pogba through ball to Matri was laid off for Quagliarella, whose shot was well saved by Forster.

When Juve’s second goal came, it exposed Celtic’s defence all too easily. A long ball from midfield was flighted in for Vidal, who sneaked in behind Emilio Izaguirre to collect and square for the unmarked Quagliarella to slot home past Forster at the back post.

If Celtic’s heads went down, they didn’t show it, but by then the Italians did enough to shun them.
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