Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-1 Juventus FC
Bayer 04 Leverkusen reiterated their UEFA Champions League ambitions on Tuesday night with a 3-1 win over Juventus FC at the BayArena. The victory lifted Klaus Toppmöller's side into joint-second position in Group D while eliminating the Turin giants.
Three vital points
Goals from Hans-Jörg Butt, Thomas Brdaric and Marko Babic gave the 1. Bundesliga leaders three vital points, leaving them behind Arsenal FC on goal difference. They travel to leaders RC Deportivo La Coruña next week needing to better the English team's result at Juventus, also on Matchday Twelve.
Lap of honour
Defeat for Juventus spelled the end of their quarter-final hopes, and the fact the two sides travelled in the opposite direction here would have been a delicious irony for Toppmöller. The German side had suffered a 4-0 humiliation in Turin in November, after which Italian police sent the Leverkusen bus the wrong way back to their hotel. Deliberately so, claimed Toppmöller. Yet the only detour for the Leverkusen players on a wet night in the Rheinland was the lap of honour they took en route to the dressing rooms.
In the ascendant
It was the least they deserved. Leverkusen's stars were in the ascendant from the third minute, when Bulgarian international Dimitar Berbatov drew a fine save from Gianluigi Buffon with a downward header from Bernd Schneider's free-kick. With Berbatov and Brdaric running down the channels, the home team stretched a Juventus rearguard missing the injured Lilian Thuram.
Goalkeeper turns goalscorer
Christian Zenoni joined Ciro Ferrara, Alessandro Birindelli and Gianluca Pessotto in a makeshift back line, and it was Zenoni who conceded the penalty from which Butt put Leverkusen ahead on 24 minutes. The goalkeeper turned goalscorer, sending Buffon the wrong way from the spot.
Butt had a quieter first half at the other end, and it was Berbatov who hinted loudest at a second goal shortly before the interval. The 21-year-old threw himself at a corner inside the area, only to see the ball diverted from his reach by the flailing leg of Bianconeri captain Antonio Conte.
Tudor's lucky escape
Leverkusen carried on where they had left off after the break. They were unfortunate not to double their lead moments after the restart when Ferrara deflected Berbatov's through-ball for Brdaric centimetres wide of Buffon's right-hand post. Then substitute Igor Tudor appeared to handle the resulting corner but his intervention escaped the notice of Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen.
Tudor's luck was also in on the hour when his header from Zenoni's right-wing cross brought Juventus level. The equaliser came just seconds after Yildiray Bastürk, Leverkusen's playmaker, had wasted a two-on-one counterattack by shooting rather than squaring to Berbatov with the Bulgarian unmarked in the visiting penalty area.
Briefly, the Bianconeri threatened to take control. But on 71 minutes the lively Brdaric - an inspired selection ahead of the out-of-sorts Ulf Kirsten - nodded Leverkusen back in front from Zé Roberto's perfectly flighted free-kick. Their European hopes fading fast, Lippi's men drove forward yet could find no way past Carsten Ramelow. The German international was an immovable object in the Leverkusen defence despite having seen his partner
Jens Nowotny limp off early in the first half through injury.
Babic finishes the job
The visitors' defence was more easily breached, however, something Toppmöller's team managed to do for a third time in the 91st minute. Substitute Babic traded passes with Zé Roberto before slotting home from close range for a fine breakaway goal.
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