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Del Piero sends Juve through

Published: Wednesday 23 November 2005, 0.40CET
Juventus 1-0 Club Brugge KV
Alessandro Del Piero scored the only goal as Juventus qualified and consigned the visitors to the UEFA Cup.
by Richard Aikman
from Stadio Delle Alpi
Published: Wednesday 23 November 2005, 0.40CET

Del Piero sends Juve through

Juventus 1-0 Club Brugge KV
Alessandro Del Piero scored the only goal as Juventus qualified and consigned the visitors to the UEFA Cup.

Alessandro Del Piero scored the only goal as Juventus qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League and dashed Club Brugge KV's hopes of doing just that at the Stadio Delle Alpi.

Headed winner
Restored to the side with Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended following his dismissal in the Matchday 4 defeat of FC Bayern München, the 31-year-old made amends for missing earlier half-chances by heading the only goal in the 80th minute. Juve will now compete for top spot in Group A with Bayern, while Club Brugge can console themselves with a place in the UEFA Cup with one round of matches to go.

Prudent Brugge
The visitors opted for a slightly more prudent formation to the norm, Grégory Dufer coming in to strengthen the midfield with Croatian striker Boško Balaban dropping to the bench and Javier Portillo deployed as a sole attacker in a 4-5-1 system. That was a sign of their determination to keep the Bianconeri at bay, and they were soon making use of their superior midfield numbers to keep possession of the ball.

Early chances
Still, in an eerily quiet Delle Alpi, it was Juve's Czech international Pavel Nedvěd who almost broke the deadlock after seven minutes, firing a snapshot narrowly wide of Tomislav Butina's goal from the edge of the area. On the quarter-hour, Del Piero squandered another half-chance by heading Mauro Camoranesi's pinpoint free-kick wide.

Swift counter
Aside from a half-hearted penalty claim after 21 minutes, and a decent long-range effort from Ivan Leko on 34, Club Brugge offered little going forward in the first half. Juve were hardly producing the sort of display that silenced the AS Roma faithful at the weekend either, although they did string together a devastating one-touch counterattack from their own penalty area on the half-hour. Patrick Vieira, Camoranesi, Nedvěd and David Trezeguet were involved before Del Piero strayed offside as the opener beckoned.

Butina relief
In the 38th minute, Juve went even closer to making it 1-0. Giorgio Chiellini whipped in a fine centre from the left which Trezeguet, leaning back, sent back across Butina and off the base of the goalkeeper's right-hand post. As the Croatian custodian stooped to gather the loose ball, he almost nudged it across the line, only to react well and smother as the line drew tantalisingly close. Capello's face said it all.

Dragged shot
While the game remained scoreless there was always a chance the skilful Portillo, supported by the busy Dufer and purposeful Gert Verheyen, could conjure the goal Club Brugge needed to remain in the competition. Yet Juve came out for the second half determined to end such dreams, and Vieira soon sent a delightful diagonal curler wide of Butina's right-hand post before Del Piero dragged a shot across goal following fine work down the right from Gianluca Zambrotta.

Del Piero strikes
The Italy striker then blazed another effort high and wide after a clever one-two with Vieira as Juve began to lay siege to the Belgian side's goal. A powerful Verheyen header was well blocked by Fabio Cannavaro on 69 minutes, and that proved to be Club Brugge's final decent opening as Del Piero drifted in between two defenders to expertly nod in Nedvěd's precise long cross.

Late opening
With goal difference likely to play a part in who wins the pool, it remains to be seen whether Marcelo Zalayeta's missing of an open goal in added time will prove telling for Juve. For now, though, winning is all that matters.

Last updated: 23/11/05 10.56CET

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