Thursday, August 26, 2010
Juventus 1-0 Sturm Graz (3-1 Agg.): Del Piero Strike Seals Bianconeri's Passage To Group Stage
Bianconeri captain sends La Vecchia Signora into the Europa League group stage...
By David Schiavone goal.com
Juventus are through to the Europa League Group Stage after a narrow 1-0 win over Sturm Graz in Turin and they had captain Alessandro Del Piero to thank as his magnificent effort was the difference ensuring the Italians went through 3-1 on aggregate.
Sturm Graz knew they needed to score to give them a fighting chance in the tie, their intention from the off was to attack and they put Juventus under pressure right away creating a number of opportunities but the Juve centre back pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci held up well.
Juve however were not content to sit and soak up Graz pressure, but instead took control of the game and exploiting any space Graz were leaving in behind them. Simone Pepe was constantly finding himself in exciting positions but his delivery was somewhat lacking.
But not willing to lay down and surrender to the Turin giants, Graz were intent of showcasing their own attacking talent with Imre Szabics having the Austrians' best chance when he broke free of Chiellini but could only strike the post.
This was a warning to the home side and not to be outdone they themselves hit the post through captain Alessandro Del Piero, who was exerting a considerable influence on the match. But no-one could make the breakthrough and both teams went in at the break level.
With Graz showing tremendous spirit in their attempts to work a way into the match, Juventus entered the second half much the stronger side creating a guilt-edged chance for David Lanzafame but he dragged an easy shot wide.
It was not long before the Bianconeri took the lead and it was Del Piero who scored, what was a wonderful goal. Excellent control on the left, beat his marker then curled a shot into the far corner from the angle of the 18 yard box.
By now it was all Juventus, chance after chance was presented to Pepe, Bonucci and an impressive Jorge Martinez, but none were taken and Juve saw out the match to guarantee European football in Turin for the coming season.
Juventus are next in action on Sunday 29th August as they travel to face Bari in Serie A, while Sturm Graz will be looking to bounce back against Wiener Neustadt on Sunday in the Austrian Bundesliga.
Liverpool made it through after a few scares,City also made it but Villa crashed out.