Soccer

Juventus blanks Chelsea to keep pace in Group E

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Associated Press
11/20/2012 6:36:08 PM
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TURIN, Italy -- Juventus took a giant step toward qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Chelsea, which could become the first reigning titleholder to fail to progress past the group stage.

Fabio Quagliarella and Arturo Vidal -- who were both on target for Juventus in the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge -- again scored against Chelsea. Substitute Sebastian Giovinco sealed the result in the final minute.

Juventus is second in Group E, two points above Chelsea and one behind Shakhtar Donetsk, which it faces in the last group match. Chelsea needs to beat Nordsjaelland and for Shakhtar to defeat Juve in the last group matches to go through.

"It's a big disappointment," Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said. "It's been a difficult evening for us, for the team, for the club. So there was a lot of reflection.

"It's mathematically still possible, and you always try while there's still hope. Who says Juve are not going to lose against Shakhtar. We have to do our own job against Nordsjaelland."

Juventus only needs a point to join Shakhtar in the next round.

"The defence had a great game but the squad as a whole did too," Juventus assistant coach Angelo Alessio said. "We do everything as a group and the whole team was really, really great. We had a top performance and were very unpredictable. I am very satisfied. Tonight was an important game and we won it by playing our game, imposing our style.

"Tonight's game was very important, but we still haven't done anything. We have to wait for the game against Shakhtar. We have to go there and play our game, play as we did tonight, fight hard. We're not used to playing for a point, we want to win."

Mirko Vucinic recovered from flu to start up front with Quagliarella, whose last-minute goal had rescued a point for Juventus in its Champions League opener.

Di Matteo dropped Fernando Torres, while captain John Terry was missing through injury.

The English side has not won any of its past four games in the Premier League, but victory in Turin would have guaranteed a spot in the next round. Chelsea struggled to carve out any real opportunities, however, although Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon did well to deny Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.

"We're all in it together," Di Matteo said. "I'm responsible for the results. At the moment I'm still here and I think I will be in the future. We'll have to see what happens.

"I'm responsible for the result, I'm responsible for the performance and tonight was negative. If anyone has to take the blame, it's me. I select the team. The blame belongs to me."

Juventus hit the post in the fourth minute through a volley by Stephan Lichsteiner, who also had an effort cleared off the line by Ashley Cole.

Chelsea had its best chance minutes later as Oscar skipped past two Juventus players before releasing Hazard, but Buffon managed to turn his effort into the side-netting with his legs.

Claudio Marchisio should have put Juventus ahead in the 15th minute following a well-worked move. Vucinic cut back Pirlo's corner to Marchisio, but goalkeeper Petr Cech reacted smartly to turn it round his left post.

Juventus was piling the pressure on Chelsea, and again went close when Quagliarella's angled drive was comfortably saved by Cech.

The Bianconeri were gifted a golden opportunity when Vidal was fouled by Branislav Ivanovic on the edge of the box. However, free-kick master Andrea Pirlo's effort was straight at Cech and lacked any real power.

Chelsea had a rare opportunity in the 36th minute as Oscar again bamboozled his way past Andrea Barzagli before a good sliding tackle from Leonardo Bonucci ended the move.

Moments later, Juventus broke the deadlock as Pirlo's shot from outside the area was deflected by Quagliarella past Cech's outstretched hand.

Chelsea could have gone in at the break on level terms as Hazard released Mata, but Buffon stood firm to stop the Spaniard's effort.

Vucinic had two good chances to extend Juve's lead moments after the break. He fired over from a good position before doing even better to round Cesar Azpilicueta before slipping as he was about to shoot.

Pirlo almost scored a stunning strike just before the hour mark, but Cech did well to tip his long-range strike around his left post, and the goalkeeper did even better moments later to snatch the ball off Vucinic's feet as the striker tried to round him for a clear shot on goal.

Juventus doubled its lead in the 61st when Kwadwo Asamoah cut the ball back for the onrushing Vidal to lash home.

Vucinic could have sealed the match with 10 minutes remaining, his volley going over from close range.

The hosts scored a third near the end when Giovinco was sent clear on the counterattack. He drew Cech out of the penalty area and slotted past him into the empty net.

Andrea Pirlo (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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