Juventus outclassed holders Chelsea 3-0 at home on Tuesday, leaving them
on the verge of becoming the first title-holders to be knocked out in
the Champions League group stage since the competition began.
Serie A champions could have doubled their tally with a more effective
strikeforce as troubled Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo's gamble of
dropping Fernando Torres and playing without a recognised striker failed
to pay off.
Quagliarella opened the scoring with a fortuitous effort, Arturo Vidal
side-footed a deflected second and substitute Sebastian Giovinco
completed Chelsea's misery with a stoppage-time goal as Juve moved
closer to the last 16.
previous visit to Italy ended with a 3-1 defeat at Napoli in February
which contributed to the sacking of coach Andre Villas-Boas and his
replacement Di Matteo is looking increasingly vulnerable barely six
months after winning the Champions League.
"In a big club like this if you have a few bad results, of course you are going to be under pressure," the Italian told Sky TV.
was the same from day one and that's how it is, you have to live with
it, pick yourself up and pick the players up and try to get that next
win for the club."
were left in the helpless position of hoping that Shakhtar Donetsk, who
qualified with a 5-2 win at Nordsjaelland in the other Group E match,
beat Juventus in their final game in Ukraine on December 5.
Londoners are at home to bottom side Nordsjaelland but even a handsome
win against the unheralded Danes may be in vain given Chelsea are on
seven, Juve nine and Shakhtar 10.
have hope because mathematically it is still possible for us. Nobody
says Shakhtar can't win against Juve at home, we just have to make sure
we do our job," added Di Matteo.
point in Donetsk will be enough for Serie A leaders Juventus and give
Shakhtar top spot, a scenario that could well spark wild conspiracy
theories of an arranged result, bizarrely known as "biscuits" in the
don't consider it a formality, we have to play the game and fight hard,
we don't expect anything unusual," Juventus assistant coach Angelo
Alessio, standing in for the suspended Antonio Conte, told reporters.
are a great team but we have produced similar performances recently,
this is important for our confidence but there is still room for
"FALSE NUMBER NINE"
winners Juve have recently been in the Champion League wilderness
themselves and the game could have turned out very differently if Eden
Hazard had not missed an excellent chance early on.
Belgian dallied and saw his close-range effort deflected wide by
Gianluigi Buffon's legs after Oscar ran 50 metres through the Juventus
midfield and slipped the ball to him.
at that stage, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, who made a superb early
save to turn Stephan Lichtsteiner's close range shot onto the post, was
infuriating the home crowd with his pedestrian approach to goal kicks.
hassled Chelsea incessantly in midfield, refusing to allow them to
settle, and their approach work was often superb, but they lacked the
Oscar, Hazard and Juan Mata alternating in the "false number nine" role,
posed an attacking threat in the first half but fell apart after
Juventus went ahead in the 38th minute.
Pirlo beat a hesitant Oscar to the ball and hit a weak long-range
effort which deflected off Fabio Quagliarella into the net past a
immediately, Ashley Cole made a desperate clearance off the line to keep
it to 1-0 at half-time but Chelsea's nightmare was only just beginning.
visitors were fortunate not to concede a penalty after Gary Cahill held
down Quagliarella before Juve's forwards wasted more good chances.
only real opportunity to equalise fell to Juan Mata who squandered it
by sending a free-kick straight into the Juventus wall.
hosts killed the game off when Kwadwo Asamoah burst into the area and
laid the ball off for Vidal, sent off in his last two appearances for
Chile, to sidefoot home via a deflection.
last half-hour was painful for Chelsea and substitute Giovinco provided
the coup de grace in stoppage time when he poked the ball past Cech,
who had recklessly rushed out of his penalty area to try to hoof clear a
has struggled for goals since his move from Parma, was booked for taking
his shirt off while Di Matteo was left to face the music.
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