Celtic cruelly exposed by Juve
Celtic 0 Juventus 3: Celtic’s Champions League campaign appears all but over after a 3-0 home defeat to Juventus, who punctured the groundswell of optimism around Parkhead with ruthless efficiency tonight.
The homeside dominated much of the second round first leg tie but were always chasing the game after conceding in the third minute to Alessandro Matri’s strike and were then twice exposed on the break by Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic in the final 15 minutes.
They deserved more, and could well have got it, had Efe Ambrose not been shrugged off the ball too easily in the build-up to the opener or robbed of possession for the third. The homeside could argue, with some justification, that the referee might have punished the visitors on one of the numerous occasions their man-marking crossed the line in the box, but most of all they will rue the fact they did not create as much as their play deserved, and when they did, they failed to take their chances.
The best of them fell to the unfortunate Ambrose just after the hour, when the defender found himself unmarked six yards out and attacking a pinpoint cross. His header was tame, directed into the ground and gratefully gathered by Ginaluigi Buffon.
The Hoops had beaten Barcelona and Spartak Moscow in the group stages in finishing second to the Catalans to reach the knockout stages for the first time in five seasons. Lennon had predicted the “thunder” would be back in the east end of Glasgow for the visit of the Serie A champions and indeed the decibel levels were off the scale as both sides emerged from the tunnel.
Some home fans would have been surprised to see defender Ambrose in the starting line-up. The defender played for Nigeria in their 1-0 African Nations Cup final win over Burkina Faso on Sunday evening and did not arrive back in Glasgow until this morning.
Emilio Izaguirre shrugged off a knee injury to take his place at left-back in a 4-5-1 formation, while winger James Forrest returned after recovering from a hamstring complaint, although Georgios Samaras failed to recover from the same injury.
A strong Juventus side in a 3-5-2 formation included star midfielder Andrea Pirlo.
Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama set the tone for a frantic start with a speculative shot from distance, which Juve’s veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon let slip out of his hands for a corner that came to nothing. However, the visitors stormed into the lead with their first real attack, when Federico Peluso’s pass caught out Ambrose.