Celtic wrestled out of Europe
Celtic 0 – 3 Juventus
2 bad defensive mistakes and a good goal were still not quite enough for Juventus to stake their place in the last 8 of the Champions League. Sadly the Turin side resorted to classic tactics including time-wasting, kicking out at opponents and full body assault on any Celtic player daring to position themselves inside the Juve penalty box for a set piece. The Referee to his credit wasnt slow to penalise such action but incredibly his response was to book the innocent Celtic player along with the dirty tactic specialist in a Juventus strip. The wily Juve player simply laughed while Celtic just got more and more frustrated. This frustration only added to the ire felt by Celtic after failing to declare Sammi fit for even a place on the bench.
As for the actual game itself, all was going well for almost 3 minutes. A keen Celtic took the game to Juventus with Wanyama testing Buffon with a hard low drive. It all went wrong when a high ball sent up and over from the left hand side was missed by Ambrose. This error allowed Matri to run in and slide the ball through a lumbering Forsters legs. All game plans were thereafter up in the air. Celtic kept their composure and took the game to the Italian side, but chances were either from a distance, Wanyama with shots outside the box being saved by Buffon, or not clear-cut, the best being an overhead kick from Kris Commons which went just wide of the keepers right hand post. The Hoops huffed and puffed but couldnt break through with James Forrest failing to show up and Celtic failing to deliver the ball to Gary Hooper without him having back to the goal.
The first half ended with a frustrated Celtic trudging off knowing exactly what they were up against and an interesting challenge for the Celtic management team. Celtic had to their credit tried a few new set pieces but with the overly close-contact from the Juventus players and the lack of Samaras, goals from set pieces were looking unlikely.Celtic were needing more direct attacks in the final third and fans prayed for a goal.
The second half saw no changes and Celtic continued to push for an equalizer. With every infringement going unpunished ( bar another Hoop being booked of course) the hand of fate duly slapped us in the face. Efe Ambrose failed to connect properly with his header when being presented with an open goal and soon after Juventus scored on the counter with Matri setting up Marchisio who turned inside Scott Brown and then clinically slammed the ball passed Forster. The tie was effectively over and even fresh blood like Watt for Commons and Kayal for Brown had sadly no impact.
While the second goal took the wind right out of Celtic, the 3rd goal was just rubbing salt in the wound. Juventus final goal arrived with 10 minutes to go when a slow Ambrose found himself mugged on the edge of his own box and Marchisio stepped forward, passed the ball to his left for the waiting Mirko Vucinic who duly slammed the ball passed Forster. The referee blew his whistle and te game, the tie and the latest Celtic adventure in Europe was over.
After the game Neil Lennon admitted that it was a gamble to play Ambrose, after his recent sojourn to South Africa to play with a triumphant Nigeria, and sadly the gamble didnt pay off. Thems the breaks and no-one can complain really after the advances this season. Its a tough lesson to take but there is no doubt that this team, Players and Management will have learnt plenty and all lessons will go towards the 2013-14 CL Qualifiers.
As for Juventus, well there is some sad news for The Old Lady, Wrestling has been removed from the Olympic Ratified Sports list!
Etims MOTM – Izzy with nods to Big Vic, Wilson, Lustig and Commons.