Masterful Italian club Juve almost in the last 16

  • Other Sport
  • Thursday, 23 Oct 2003

TURIN: Juventus moved to the brink of the last 16 of the Champions League after defeating Real Sociedad 4-2 here on Tuesday to maintain their hundred per cent first phase record. 

French striker David Trezeguet and Italy international Marco Di Vaio both scored twice as last season's losing finalists punished the woeful defending of their Spanish visitors. 

Juve took their foot off the pedal after their four-goal blitz and allowed the Basque side to bring some respectability to the scoreline with two goals in the last 23 minutes. 

Croat defender Igor Tudor put through his own net in the 67th minute before Francisco De Pedro rifled home a free-kick to complete the scoring at the Delle Alpi stadium. 

Juventus' victory saw them open up a three-point lead at the top of Group D and take a giant step towards the second round. 

Juventus Marco Di Vaio (centre) celebrates with his teammates Lilian Thuram (top), Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet (right) after scoring against Real Sociedad during their Chammpions League Group D Match at the Delle Alpi Stadium in Turin on Tuesday.

The reigning Italian champions and current league leaders have nine points from their three matches, three more than Sociedad and six more than third-placed Galatasaray. 

“We have real quality throughout the squad and we demonstrated that tonight, especially in the first-half,” said Trezeguet, whose goals were his first in Europe this season, as were Di Vaio's. 

“We always had something extra in reserve and proved too strong for Sociedad. For us it was important to win, but it was even more satisfying to perform well. We're a step away from qualification.” 

Di Vaio played down talk that Juventus could go one better than they did last season and become champions of Europe. 

“It's too early to say that we can win this time around, but we have started well and that's a great boost for morale,” he said. 

“We had our critics after the final last season and that motivates us even more. We're unbeaten in the league and in Europe and have every reason to be confident, but we won't get carried away.” 

Juve coach Marcello Lippi said an impressive win would not prevent him from rotating his squad for Sunday's league match at home to Brescia. 

“On Sunday there will be new faces in the team,” he said. “The idea is to involve as many members of the squad as possible.  

“It's important that the players have time to recover as the season will take its toll. It's something they are used to.  

“We can sometimes play three games in a week and everyone needs a break from time to time.” 

Juventus, who knocked out three Spanish sides on their way to last season's Old Trafford showpiece where they lost to AC Milan, went on the attack from the opening whistle and their positive approach brought a goal in the third minute. 

Wing-back Mauro Camoranesi weaved his way into the heart of the Sociedad defence and fed Trezeguet, who sprung the offside trap with a perfectly-timed run before rounding goalkeeper Sander Westerveld and slotting home. 

The home side refused to sit back on their lead and doubled their advantage four minutes later. 

Pavel Nedved went on a robust run down the right wing and passed to Di Vaio, who cut inside before dilling a low, angled shot between two defenders and into the far corner. 

Sociedad recovered their composure after Juve's opening blitz and carved out their first attack in the 27th minute which ended with Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon tipping Lionel Potillon's free-kick over the bar. 

Trezeguet was denied a second by Westerveld's stunning reflex save before the home side turned the screw in first-half stoppage-time. 

Gianluca Zambrotta flew down the left flank and cut the ball back from the by-line for Di Vaio, whose looping header eluded Westerveld's grasp and crept in at the near post. 

Sociedad fell further behind in the 63rd minute. Nedved cut in from the left and threaded an angled pass through to Trezeguet who sped clear of the Spanish defence before stroking the ball past Westerveld. 

Tudor diverted a left-wing cross past Buffon after a rare Sociedad attack before De Pedro's blistering free-kick 10 minutes from time brought the curtain down on a six-goal thriller. – AFP  

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