Juventus down Tottenham to enter Champions League quarters

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London, March 8 (IANS) Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala each scored a goal in the second half as Juventus tamed Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 here in the second leg of Champions League round of 16.

With a 4-3 aggregate victory on Wednesday, Juventus, the Serie A champions and finalists in two of the last three seasons, advanced to the quarter-finals for the third time in the last four seasons, reports Xinhua news agency.

With two away goals in the 2-2 draw in the first leg, Tottenham had a slight advantage before they host the Old Lady of Turin at the Wembly Stadium.

The English side challenged Gianluigi Buffon multiple times in the initial minutes but the veteran Italian goalkeeper managed to keep clear of a goal.

At the other end of the pitch, Juventus were denied a penalty after Douglas Costa was tripped in the 14th minute.

However, the efforts by Tottenham finally paid off as their South Korean forward Son Heung-Min nailed a finesse shot on the 39th minute.

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Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri called Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner off the bench an hour into the match, replacing Morocco defender Medhi Benatia and French midfielder Blaise Matuidi and the substitutions generated immediate fruits.

Four minutes later, Higuain netted an equaliser, putting past Hugo Lloris with a right-footed chip after Sami Khedira turned in a header towards the former off a cross from Lichtsteiner on the right flank.

In only three minutes, Dybala slotted home a winner in the one-on-one with Lloris, benefited from the through ball from Higuain. Dybala shot the ball into the right corner, giving Lloris no chance.

The deficit forced Tottenham to be more aggressive but Harry Kane’s extra-time header was denied by the left post before being cleared away almost from the line by Andrea Barzagli, who moved to the centre after the inclusion of Swiss right-back Lichtsteiner.

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Veteran central defenders Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini put up a masterclass as Juventus mounted a great defence even though Tottenham created many chances.

With this comeback victory, Juventus advanced to the quarter-finals and avoid a fifth elimination against English clubs in the Champions League in the last five encounters.

“It’s a famous win. Well done to the players for what they’ve done this evening, also for what they’ve done this season and over the years, along with the club. I’m really proud to coach them – they deserve all the credit,” Allegri was quoted as saying by Juventus’ website.

“We did very well to bide our time and strike at the right moment. We were under the cosh at times in the first half, but only at certain moments.”

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Talking about his substitutions, the coach said: “In the second half we needed more technical ability in the middle of the park and since Khedira was growing into the game I took Matuidi off, even though he won the ball back several times in the first half.

“We gradually improved the quality of our play and bringing on Asamoah, a great competitor, and Stephan supplemented what we were trying to do. Lichtsteiner and Khedira played key roles in the equaliser.”

Tottenham chief coach Mauricio Pochettino told his club’s website: “We played well and deserved more but in football you need to be clinical and try to avoid conceding goals and chances.

“I’m proud because our performance was good in both games and I think we deserved more than Juventus but we have to accept that the better team doesn’t always win.”

–IANS

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