Juventus FC's Igor Tudor said his dramatic winner against RC Deportivo La Coruña ended "months of suffering".
Juventus FC midfield player Igor Tudor said that his dramatic winning goal against RC Deportivo La Coruña was the "end of months of suffering" as he put the Turin club within touching distance of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
The Croatian international's season has been ruined by injuries but, on as a substitute, he scored three minutes into added time to give Juventus a pulsating victory that means they can lose by three goals next week at FC Basel and still progress. Deportivo, however, are out.
'I could hardly believe it'
"I am very pleased with the goal after so many months of suffering. I could hardly believe it when I saw the ball going in," Tudor said after the game. "We did not play that well tonight but we have to look forward now. Physically I am not at my peak yet but I have not played that much and to get back to full fitness I have to play for 90 minutes."
Tudor only replaced Alessio Tacchinardi 13 minutes from the end with the scores level at 2-2, David Trezeguet having equalised just after the hour. Ciro Ferrara had given Juventus an early lead but Diego Tristán brought Deportivo level and Roy Makaay's peach of a goal on 52 minutes, at a point where the visitors were dominating, had seemed to sound the death knell for the Italian champions.
But Juventus came back, and, with the game almost up, Tudor pounced to volley in spectacularly. Home coach Marcello Lippi was naturally delighted with the win - but admitted that he was confused as to why his team does not seem to be able to produce the same high-quality football in Europe that has taken them to the top of Serie A.
Lippi said: "
I know that Juventus can play a lot better. I know that and the players know that and hopefully this win and the way it arrived will allow the players to perform at a level they are possible of in Europe from now on. We can do a lot more as we have shown in the league, were we have been a lot more assured."
The coach was also keen to point out that Juventus were not definitely through. "We have not qualified yet and although we can lose and still qualify we have to go to Basel and do our absolute best," he said. "There might be only a small chance of us going out but as long as there is even a small chance we have to be very, very careful."
Hard done by
Deportivo will feel hard done by after producing a fine display, Tristán and Makaay carving up the Juventus defence time and time again in the first hour. Tristán scored Depor's first after a breathtakingly fluent move which also involved Aldo Duscher, and Makaay's ninth goal of the competition was a stunning effort involving a turn and curled shot. It was all in vain, though, as coach Javier Irureta admitted.
He said: "Of course we are all disappointed to have lost this game and in the way we did it but
I have to say that I am pleased with the side's performance. It was a very good game and we played very well in the first half but maybe lost our way a bit in the second half." Irureta also vowed that Deportivo would be back. "Juventus went out of the Champions League last season and then went on to win their league and we will have to try and do the same," he said.