Alessandro del Piero's missed penalty cost Juventus FC maximum points as they were held to a goalless draw by RC Deportivo La Coruña in their UEFA Champions League Group D encounter on Tuesday.
After 74 minutes of a rough-and-tumble encounter, Del Piero and David Trezeguet burst forward for the home side. The French forward slipped the ball to his strike partner, but César Martín's clip just inside the area sent Del Piero tumbling and earned Juventus a spot-kick. The Italian got to his feet to take the penalty himself and struck it well, but José Molina pulled off a sparkling save high to his right to deny Del Piero and keep the game goalless.
The miss summed up a frustrating evening for Marcello Lippi's side, who surged forward relentlessly but were continually frustrated by determined Deportivo defending. Trezeguet went close to scoring several times, notably when his powerful downward header midway through the second half struck the foot of the post with Molina well beaten.
The match was riddled with strong challenges and, although the game was not bad tempered, referee Hugh Dallas had a relatively busy evening, issuing four yellow cards. As early as the fourth minute, Juventus defender Ciro Ferrara stamped his authority on the game with a crunching tackle from behind on Juan Valerón. It was not much longer before the first booking of the night was given to Héctor Berenguel after he brought down Del Piero, who had seen his 16th-minute free-kick saved by Molina seconds earlier.
Edgar Davids and Lilian Thuram worked tirelessly to prise open the Spanish outfit's defence and it was from a Davids pass that Juventus had the best chance of the first half. Just after the half-hour mark, the Dutchman played the ball wide to Del Piero, who sent a looping cross towards the far post. Trezeguet's snap overhead strike from close range tested Molina, but he was once again equal to the task.
Lone striker's artistry
Deportivo's best opportunities all came through the artistry of Diego Tristán, who caused the otherwise solid Juventus back four problems all night. The 26-year-old Spaniard went closest when testing Gianluigi Buffon from long range, but he ploughed a lone furrow for Deportivo. Thanks to the width of the post and the brilliance of their goalkeeper, Deportivo earned a draw which keeps them level with the rest of the sides in Group D and bang in contention to secure a quarter-final place.
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