Champions` League: Juventus, PSG go through
Juventus breeze past Celtic
Turin: Juventus cruised into the quarter-finals of the Uefa Champions League with a comfortable 2-0 win over Celtic at Juventus Stadium.
With a 3-0 advantage from the first leg, Antonio Conte`s men proved devastating on the counterattack as goals from Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella either side of the break ensured their progression to the next round.
Given their lead from the first leg, a Juve side with five changes from last Friday`s Serie A draw with Napoli predictably showed minimal urgency during the early exchanges and were content to draw Celtic forward and look to hit them on the counterattack.
Joe Ledley attempted to give the SPL leaders some direction from midfield, but it was not until the 21st minute that they looked liked breaking through a defence that had conceded just four times in their seven previous European matches this season. The Wales midfielder arrowed a sweetly-struck attempt from 25 yards, only to see his shot go agonisingly close to finding the top corner.
But at the highest level such margins can often prove costly, and Neil Lennon`s men suffered a hammer blow as the Bianconeri took the lead three minutes later.
Gary Hooper was caught on the ball by Andrea Barzagli and the centre-back fed Quagliarella inside the area. Fraser Forster was equal to the forward`s shot but could only send it into the path of Matri, who followed up for a simple finish.
Hooper almost immediately atoned for his error as his touch drastically changed the direction of Kris Commons` shot, but Gianluigi Buffon readjusted to turn the ball behind.
However, there was nothing the keeper could do as Giorgios Samaras drifted in from the left and flashed a low cross across the face of the goal. Unfortunately, Hooper failed to react quick enough as the pass evaded his stretching toes as the visitors went in search of an equaliser.
At the start of the second half the Old Lady showed a greater desire to attack and could well have doubled their lead soon after the restart. Matri teed up Quagliarella inside the area, from Paul Pogba`s pass into the area, though this time Forster was able to parry the striker`s shot away to safety.
Celtic`s ambition had visibly taken a knock and a free header from Efe Ambrose that bounced down and cleared the crossbar just before the hour mark was as close as they came to finding the net.
Juve would once more make the visitors rue that missed chance as Arturo Vidal beat the offside trap, latching onto an exquisite Andrea Pirlo pass and squaring for Quagliarella to add the finishing touch with 65 minutes played.
The tempo of the game soon fizzled out with the outcome clearly finalised, leaving Celtic winless in 10 visits to Italy. The Bianconeri, meanwhile, go marching on into the quarter-finals.
PSG edge out Valencia
Paris: Paris Saint-Germain were made to work hard for a 1-1 draw against Valencia on Wednesday evening at Parc des Princes, a result that saw Carlo Ancelotti’s side qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 1995 with a 3-2 aggregate success.
In what was an affair lacking in quality and excitement for long periods, the Spaniards grabbed the lead thanks to a stunning strike from Jonas early in the second half that was of a standard not in keeping with what had preceded it.
PSG, who were lacking the suspended pair of Marco Verratti and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, battled back quickly, though, and Ezequiel Lavezzi scrambled them level.
From the outset it was clear that the home side were in an indecisive mood, and this allowed Valencia to set the tempo for much of the game. Although they struggled to test Salvatore Sirigu in the home goal, los Che deservedly grabbed the lead 10 minutes into the second period when Jonas blasted home with his unflavoured right foot from the edge of the area.
Ancelotti responded by introducing Kevin Gameiro, and the substitute would play a key role in invigorating the previously stale home side. A positive run through the centre of defence was rewarded by a lucky break that saw the ball break to Lavezzi, who needed two attempts to ultimately beat Vicente Guaita with his knee.
Even this equalising goal struggled to prompt much of a reaction from the home side, who had to withstand a good deal of pressure from their guests in the closing stages, with Alex and Thiago Silva outstanding in the heart of their defence while Blaise Matuidi’s energy in the centre of the field helped subdue Valencia.
The Spaniards would regret their failure to make headway earlier in the match. Despite bossing the game, Sirigu was rarely seriously tested.
With quarter of an hour gone, Roberto Soldado should have made the Italian work harder when he got a clear sight of goal, and a rather scuffed effort wide from Tino Costa with half an hour played rather summed up their efforts.
Only Jonas would show any serious intent during the opening period, but his shot in the 45th minute was punched clear by Sirigu.
The Brazil international was ultimately to be on the losing side, but this was a fate dictated by his side’s defeat in Spain rather than their considerable efforts in the French capital. For the part of PSG, they looked a side well short of the quality to be serious Champions League contenders.