UEFA Champions League: Juventus end European drought with 4-0 victory

Reuters, TURIN, Italy

Fri, Nov 09, 2012 - Page 18

Juventus won their first European match for three years as they outclassed Nordsjaelland 4-0 on Wednesday to set up a dramatic three-way finale in Group E alongside Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Juventus, who had set a record in drawing their last nine European games, swept the Danes aside in the first half, creating a hatful chances and racing to a 3-0 lead through Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco.

Substitute Fabio Quagliarella completed the scoring for the Italian champions, who quickly bounced back from Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Inter, which ended their 49-match unbeaten run in Serie A.

The result was never in doubt from the moment that Marchisio put the hosts ahead in the sixth minute at a three-quarters full Juventus Stadium.

With Andrea Pirlo dictating the midfield in his familiar implacable style, and Mauricio Isla and Kwadwo Asamoah rampaging down the flanks, Juventus could easily have doubled their first-half tally.

It was hard to believe that the Danish champions, who were utterly outclassed and barely got out of their own half in the first 45 minutes, had come within nine minutes of beating Juventus at home two weeks ago in a game that ended 1-1.

Juventus moved up to six points from four games, one behind Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea. They host the titleholders on Nov. 22 and visit the Ukrainians in their final game.

Champions League debutants Nordsjaelland, who have only been in existence for 21 years, have one point and are all but mathematically eliminated with two games to play.

The rout began when Mauricio Isla produced a low inswinging cross from the right and Marchisio got in before his marker to turn the ball in from close range.

Juve, who have made a habit of letting up after scoring early goals, did not make the same mistake this time and increased their lead with a Vidal goal that summed up their determination.

A Juve attack appeared to have been blocked but, as Kasper Lorentzen dallied over a clearance, Vidal came sliding in and scored from an improbable angle.

Jesper Hansen made good saves to deny Marchisio and Isla, while Alessandro Matri was foiled by the crossbar, but there was no stopping Juventus in the 37th minute.

Andrea Pirlo released Giovinco with a typically astute pass and the forward scored with an emphatic finish into the far corner.

Nordsjaelland managed to put the brakes on the Juventus attack after halftime and Patrick Mtiliga had their only shot on target, which was pushed away by Gianluigi Buffon in the 65th minute.

Matri should have scored a fourth when he was sent clear through on Jensen, but he lost the ball in trying to round the goalkeeper.

However, Quagliarella made no mistake as he headed the fourth in the 75th minute after Pirlo’s corner was headed on by Matri.