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Liverpool topple Turin giants

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

By Matthew Spiro at Stadio Delle Alpi

[1] Liverpool FC produced a superb defensive performance to hold Juventus to a goalless draw in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final in Turin and seal an all-Premiership tie with Chelsea FC in the last four.

Admirable concentration

[2] Juventus struggled to find any kind of attacking rhythm as Liverpool stifled them by tackling tenaciously in midfield and defending with admirable concentration and determination. Indeed the visitors created the best chances of a tense encounter, and Milan Baroš could have settled it long before the end.

Capello changes

[3] Juventus coach Fabio Capello was forced to reshuffle his defence as Lilian Thuram moved to right-back to replace the injured Jonathan Zebina, while Paolo Montero came in alongside Fabio Cannavaro in the centre. The inclusion of Rubén Olivera gave the home midfield a more attacking look, with Pavel Nedved starting just behind front-two Alessandro Del Piero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Alonso returns

[4] The visitors handed Xabi Alonso his first start since breaking an ankle in January, the Spaniard stepping in for captain Steven Gerrard who has a groin injury. Jerzy Dudek returned in goal, while Antonio Núñez was preferred to Anthony Le Tallec and Luis García retained his place behind lone striker Baroš.

Ibrahimovic profligacy

[5] Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Juventus knew that a single goal could be enough to send them through and appeared in no hurry as the game began at a slow tempo. It was the home side who created the game's first chance on eleven minutes. Gianluca Zambrotta teased a cross behind the Liverpool defence and Ibrahimovic volleyed over after timing his run perfectly.

Buffon awareness

[6] The English side heeded the warning and tightened up in midfield, with Igor Bišcan and Alonso working particularly hard to break up the Juventus attacks early. They almost hit the home side on the counterattack in the 19th minute but Gianluigi Buffon raced off his line to prevent García reaching Steve Finnan's pass.

Emerson denied

[7] Juventus dominated possession for the remainder of the half but struggled to link up with their attacking players as Liverpool remained well organised and defended in numbers. They threatened to break the Reds' resistance on 33 minutes when Mauro Camoranesi's corner was headed back across goal by Ibrahimovic, but Emerson's shot was blocked.

Baroš miss

[8] Capello sent on Marcelo Zalayeta for Olivera at the break after seeing his side fail to produce a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes. The Uruguayan joined Ibrahimovic in attack, with Del Piero dropping deeper. But it was the visitors who had the first chance of the second period when Baroš latched on to Alonso's slide-rule pass and skipped around Montero, the Bianconeri's last defender. But the Czech forward clipped his shot wide under pressure from Thuram.

Dudek decisive

[9] Liverpool were enjoying their best spell of the game, and Baroš saw another effort blocked by Cannavaro on 57 minutes. Vladimir Šmicer came on for Núñez and seconds later was combining with his compatriot Baroš, but the striker's attempted return pass was intercepted. Juventus produced their first attempt on goal in the 64th minute but Emerson's header from a Camoranesi free-kick was saved by Dudek.

Cissé substitute

[10] Juve poured forward in the closing stages, peppering Liverpool's goal with a series of set-pieces. They came closest to scoring when Cannavaro met Del Piero's free-kick with a powerful header on 78 minutes, but the ball struck the post. Djibril Cissé came on for his first appearance since he broke his leg nearly six months ago, as Liverpool held on to seal a tremendous result.

Juventus forward Alessandro Del Piero leaves the field dejected