UEFA Champions League: Juventus outclass Celtic to move closer to quarter-finals
Glasgow: Juventus have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after recording a stunning 3-0 victory over Celtic in the first leg of their last-16 clash in Glasgow.
Alessandro Matri opened the scoring with less than three minutes played, the former Cagliari striker capitalising on some dreadful defending from Eke Ambrose to bag the Bianconeri a crucial away goal.
Celtic dominated both possession and territory for the remainder of the game but they ultimately ran out of steam, as well as ideas, and saw their hopes of turning the tie around in Turin all but dashed by late goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic.
Having already beaten Barcelona, the Bhoys went into the game quietly confident of toppling another European giant. However, the hosts were left reeling after less than three minutes of action.
Ambrose, who had only just returned from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Nigeria on the morning of the game, appeared to be suffering the effects of a long-haul flight. He made a mess of an attempted header back to Fraser Foster, allowing the in-form Matri to steal in and lift the ball over the advancing keeper and give his side a vital away goal.
The scrambling Kelvin Wilson looked to have pulled off a remarkable last-ditch clearance but replays showed that the ball had crossed the line, and besides, Marchisio had put the issue beyond all doubt by calmly burying the rebound.
The concession of such an early away goal undoubtedly came as a hammer blow, but Celtic quickly cleared their heads and set about hammering away at the Juventus goal. Buffon was twice called into action to deal with well-struck drives from Victor Wanyama and Kris Commons, before the latter volleyed over when well placed in the middle of the box.
Juve were struggling to exert their customary control over the middle of the park, with Andrea Pirlo growing increasingly frustrated by the roughhouse treatment he was receiving from Scott Brown. However, after becoming embroiled in an unsightly outbreak of handbags, the peerless playmaker began to express himself in a far more positive fashion, prising open the Celtic defence with a sublime through ball. Vucinic managed to get on the end of pass but the Montenegrin’s first touch forced him too far wide and the chance to double Juve’s lead passed.
A second goal would have been incredibly harsh on Celtic, who, in truth, deserved to go in level at the interval. However, despite their best efforts, with an acrobatic overhead from Commons the pick of the bunch, they began the second half still trailing to Matri’s strike.
The home side did their best to sustain the frenetic pace they had set in the first half, but the Bianconeri stubbornly refused to break. Ambrose had a glorious opportunity to atone for his earlier error on the hour mark but he headed straight at a grateful Buffon and by that point it had become clear that Juve had weathered the worst of the storm.
The visitors became increasingly adventurous the longer the game wore on and Marchisio had already had one goal-bound effort blocked by Wilson before the same player doubled Juve`s advantage with just over 15 minutes remaining, the midfielder firing past Forster after turning sharply inside Brown.
The Serie A champions then put the game - and effectively the tie - beyond their hosts when Marchisio slipped Vucinic through to score a third goal with just seven minutes to go, thus killing what little fight Celtic had left in them.