Thursday, November 06, 2008

Juve beat Real Madrid in Bernabeu Stadium to qualify for the next stage

Italian Powerhouse Juventus from Turin joined Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon in the knockout round of the Champions League on Wednesday after two goals by Alessandro Del Piero gave the Italian team a 2-0 win at the favorite Real Madrid.

As for the defending champion, Manchester United, they are almost through following Ryan Giggs' 84th-minute header in a 1-1 draw at Celtic. But two more group leaders, Bayern Munich and Arsenal, were also held to draws and still have work to do from their final two matches.

With new Argentina national manager Diego Armando Maradona watching to see some of his countrymen in action, Italian veteran Del Piero, who first played in a Champions League final 12 years ago, scored in the 17th and 67th minutes at Bernabeu Stadium to give Juventus 10 points from four games.

"I'm so pleased to have scored in front of Maradona. I hope Diego comes to watch us play more often," said Alessandro Del Piero, who received a standing ovation from the Madrid fans in the 80,000 crowd.

"I live off these types of emotions. I'm pleased the fans gave me that applause when I came off. This is a crazy stadium and it was a very important game for us. It's a good moment for me."

Now, Claudio Ranieri's team is four ahead of Madrid and six ahead of Zenit St. Petersburg, which won 2-0 at BATE Borisov.

"I have to say that fortune wasn't on our side on several occasions, but this is a Champions League game so you have to move on," Madrid coach Bernd Schuster said. "There are still more games to play."

Although Zenit, last season's UEFA Cup winner, can reach 10 points by winning its last two games, that would mean Madrid could only finish with a maximum of nine, ensuring Juventus is guaranteed of finishing in the top two spots in Group H.

Controversy over last minute penalty in the Liverpool vs. Atletico Madrid match

The experienced Swedish referee Martin Hansson has conceded he is actually unsure if he was right to award Liverpool a late penalty on Tuesday night.

Indeed, Hansson pointed to the spot in injury-time of the Reds' UEFA Champions League draw with Atletico Madrid after Steven Gerrard went down under a challenge from Marian Pernia.

Super captain Gerrard dispatched the penalty to cancel out Maxi Rodriguez's first-half goal and leave Rafa Benitez's side level on points with Atletico at the top of Group D.

Hansson admitted publicly: "From my angle, I am not sure if it was a penalty. I am not allowed to comment on specific situations according to Uefa."

The official has come in for criticism in Sweden in recent weeks after three debatable penalty decisions.