By Adam Szreter in Turin
The sight of Pavel Nedved kneeling before the Juventus FC faithful, arms aloft, having just sealed his side's place in the final of the UEFA Champions League final, will long be remembered by those at the Stadio Delle Alpi.
Nedved's perfect finish, from Gianluca Zambrotta's pass, meant that it would be Juve, and not Real Madrid CF, who will face AC Milan in the final at Old Trafford on 28 May. Sadly, though, Nedved will not be there after picking up a yellow card a few minutes from the end for a needless foul.
Madrid may have been boosted by the quick return of the talismanic Raúl Gonzalez following appendicitis, but it was Edgar Davids and Alessio Tacchinardi, themselves returning to the Juve lineup after suspension, who made the greater impression as, from the start, they seemed intent on dominating a Madrid midfield deprived of the reassuring presence of the injured Claude Makelele.
There were a few warning shots for Madrid before they fell behind in the 13th minute, Pavel Nedved and Alessandro Del Piero both going close, and these two also played their part in the opening goal. After Trezeguet had found Nedved in space on the right, the Czech's cross was nodded down at the far post by Del Piero for Trezeguet, who poked the ball in from close range.
Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane, back at a stadium he graced for five years, did their best to rouse Madrid from their slumbers and it was a deflected Figo effort that presented them with their best chance of the first half. From the ricochet, the ball fell invitingly for Guti, unmarked in the Juve area, but with only Gianluigi Buffon to beat he shot tamely at the Juve goalkeeper.
Del Piero delight
The Spaniards were made to pay for their profligacy before the half was out as, three minutes before the break, Del Piero doubled Juve's lead. Twisting and turning past Fernando Hierro and Michel Salgado into the Madrid area, the Juve captain fired right-footed, low to Casillas's right.
Gianluca Zambrotta’s fierce drive on the stroke of half-time suggested there was more to come from Juve, by now playing some of their best football of the Champions League campaign. Madrid's response was to introduce Ronaldo, though less than fully fit, in place of Flavio Conceição.
Almost immediately the Brazilian was through on goal, but an offside flag stopped him in his tracks, while at the other end Trezeguet was centimetres away from connecting at the far post after Nedved's corner had been flicked on. A yellow card for a disgruntled Salgado merely made matters worse for Madrid before Alessandro Birindelli made way for Gianluca Pessotto in the Juve defence
Perhaps it was the change that unsettled them, but just as Juve appeared to have matters under control, they suddenly found themselves in a terrible tangle on the edge of their own area. Eventually Esteban Cambiasso picked out Ronaldo, Paolo Montero brought him down and referee Urs Meier pointed to the spot.
Extra time was on the cards, but Buffon had other ideas, diving to his right to keep out Figo's penalty, paving the way for Nedved's bittersweet finale. Zidane's 89th-minute strike was a meagre consolation for the deposed European champions - although it made for a nerve-racking last few moments.