Juventus sealed their place in the Champions League quarterfinals with something to spare as they beat Celtic 2-0 in Turin to secure an emphatic 5-0 aggregate victory in their last-16 tie.
It was always going to take a miracle for the Scottish champions to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg in Glasgow three weeks ago and, despite some first-half chances, it never looked on the horizon.
Juventus manager Antonio Conte emphasized the need for his side to do a professional job and that’s exactly what they did as they cruised to a win on the night through goals in either half from Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon, meanwhile, was merely hoping that his side could restore pride after their resounding first-leg defeat and perhaps even come away with a memorable win on the night. There were some positive early signs too. Joe Ledley should perhaps have done better as he received the ball in space 25 yards from goal but shot left-footed wide of the target.
But with 24 minutes on the clock, Celtic again succumbed to fall further behind. Andrea Barzagli won possession deep inside the Celtic half and immediately played the ball through to Quagliarella. From the left of the area, the forward’s low shot across goal was only parried out by Fraser Forster and Matri was the quickest to react to slot into the net.
To their credit, Celtic responded well to the goal. Gianluigi Buffon had to pull off a superb save after Gary Hooper had tried to divert Kris Common’s low shot into the bottom corner. And Hooper was again close to getting his name on the scoresheet just minutes later. Fit again Georgios Samaras gave a glimpse of what Celtic missed in the first leg as he gained space down the left of the box before drilling a low ball across the face of goal that Hooper just failed to make connection with as he slid in at the back post.
Another good chance came and went before half-time when Baram Kayal could only head straight into the arms of Buffon.
Despite not having as much possession as their opponents, Juventus maintained an attacking threat and came close to extending their lead as Forster was forced to deny Arturo Vidal and Quagliarella either side of half time.
It was that pair that combined to seal a resounding win on 65 minutes. Andrea Pirlo was the initial architect as he produced a trademark pinpoint ball over the top that found Vidal breaking clear and the Chilean midfielder calmly took the ball down on his chest before unselfishly sliding it across goal for Quagliarella to tap into the unguarded net.
With Samaras firing over the bar in the closing stages, there was to be not even a goal to celebrate for Celtic from two matches against the Italian champions that brought them back down to Earth in European competition following the euphoria of their group-stage win over Barcelona.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.