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Marouane Chamakh described the UEFA Champions League victory against Juventus as "a moment of pure happiness" after his second goal in as many games helped FC Girondins de Bordeaux secure first place in Group A with a match to spare.
Four straight wins
Few expected the Ligue 1 titleholders to lead the way in a section that featured two of Europe's most successful clubs, Juventus and FC Bayern München, yet there has been no stopping Laurent Blanc's men in this season's competition. After claiming a point in Turin on Matchday 1, Les Girondins have surged into the last 16 with four consecutive victories – the latest coming courtesy of goals from Fernando and Chamakh against the Bianconeri.
With qualification already assured, the pressure was off the hosts to a degree, although Chamakh insisted the lure of finishing first provided ample motivation. "We knew we were already through but we wanted that first place," the 25-year-old told uefa.com. "We wanted a good result and, above all, to play well for our fans. This is really satisfying. We're top of the group and we've beaten Juventus, a truly great club. It's just a moment of pure happiness for the players and the fans."
Beaten by Juventus in the European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-finals in 1985, the French outfit set about gaining a belated measure of revenge in determined fashion. Indeed, they had dominated proceedings when Fernando nodded in the opener on 54 minutes and continued to keep their illustrious opponents at bay. "We studied Juventus carefully and knew their strength was their left flank," Fernando explained. "We forced them to play on the right as much as possible." Of his first ever European goal, the Brazilian added: "I'd almost scored from a free-kick in the first half. This time, I was well placed at the near post and got the touch I wanted."
Diego had one shot saved and missed another presentable opportunity before Chamakh finally ended the visitors' hopes in the fourth minute of added time. The striker is convinced Bordeaux are gradually becoming a force in Europe, saying: "We've learned a lot from last season's campaign when we started badly and never recovered. We've kept the same players and have grown together. This season we've competed with Bayern and Juventus, so I think we'll have a chance against any second-placed team [in the first knockout round]. Then if we win that we can dream about a showdown against a big team like Barcelona in the quarters."
Juventus still have work to do having allowed Bayern to close to within a point of them ahead of the German giants' trip to Italy. Midfielder Mohamed Sissoko is already preparing himself for a tense night in Turin on 8 December. "We are very disappointed," the Malian international said. "We came here with high hopes but Bordeaux thoroughly deserved the victory. Now we have to pick ourselves up and try to secure our qualification against Bayern. We'll have to give everything we've got and hope we go through."
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