Juventus Beats Celtic, PSG Tops Valencia in Champions League
Juventus defeated Celtic 3-0 with early and late goals, and Paris Saint-Germain also won away at Valencia to open the round of 16 in soccer’s Champions League.
Alessandro Matri, Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic scored in Glasgow last night for Juventus, which had about half as many shots as its Scottish host. Ezequeil Lavezzi and Javier Pastore got PSG’s goals in the 2-1 win in Spain, though the French team’s top scorer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was red-carded in the closing seconds and will miss the return match.
Juventus and PSG host the second legs of the two-game series March 6 as they seek to advance to the quarterfinals of Europe’s elite club competition.
“We need a miracle,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon told ITV. “But it’s the harsh reality of Champions League football, and some of my young players will learn a huge lesson.”
Record nine-time European champion Real Madrid hosts Manchester United tonight in Cristiano Ronaldo’s first match against his former club, and Borussia Dortmund travels to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Juventus, outshot 17-9 at Celtic Park, was able to extend its unbeaten run in European away matches to nine games. The loss matched Celtic’s biggest home defeat in Europe, after a 3-0 loss to PSG in the 1995 Cup Winners’ Cup.
Matri quieted the raucous crowd in the third minute as he muscled past Efe Ambrose and poked the ball through the legs of onrushing goalkeeper Fraser Forster. The ball went over the line before being cleared by Kelvin Wilson, with Marchisio firing the rebound in to be sure.
Celtic immediately responded as Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew forced saves from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Commons then put an overhead kick wide and Victor Wanyama headed a corner over as the home side pressured leading up to halftime.
Celtic continued to control play after the break as Mulgrew sent a cross that an unmarked Wanyama headed straight down to the ground and into the arms of Buffon. Scott Brown then had an effort blocked by defender Andrea Barzagli, who blocked another shot from Wilson moments later.
Juventus doubled its lead in the 77th minute. Matri flicked a pass into the area for Marchisio, who cut back toward the middle and sent a shot that Forster touched and couldn’t keep out.
Vucinic then clinched the victory six minutes later when he shot past Forster after taking a pass from Marchisio, who stole the ball from Ambrose. Two-time European champion Juventus last reached the quarterfinals in 2006.
“It is a very important victory, it is not done yet but it is a great result in a difficult stadium,” Marchisio told UEFA’s website. “We will have to play with great determination as we did tonight in the return leg because in football anything can happen.”
PSG, which controlled only 37 percent of possession at the Mestella Stadium, got two first-half goals for the victory. Adil Rami scored in the 90th minute for Valencia before Ibrahimovic received his stoppage-time red card.
“The goal we conceded at the end leaves everything open,” PSG Sporting Director Leonardo told UEFA’s website. “We will be missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the second leg, so we will see what happens.”
PSG went in front after 10 minutes as Lavezzi took a pass from Pastore just outside the area, went between two defenders and beat goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.
The lead doubled just before halftime as Lucas Moura made a run down the right side, cut back toward the middle and laid off a pass for Pastore, who beat Guaita with a low shot.
After Rami scored for Valencia, Swedish striker Ibrahimovic was sent off for a challenge on Andres Guardado.
“I thought it was a normal tackle, nothing special,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said in a televised interview. “I thought it wasn’t a red card.”
PSG midfielder Marco Verratti will also miss the next Champions League match after picking up his third yellow card of the campaign.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com.