Juventus-Fulham: Old Guys Lead The Way As Juve Dominate Cottagers 3-1

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IMarch 11, 2010

TURIN, ITALY - MARCH 11:  Nicola Legrottaglie of Juventus FC celebrates his goal during the UEFA Europa League last 16, first leg match between Juventus FC and Fulham FC on March 11, 2010 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

When first looking at the Juve starters, one might have thought, "Wow. This is going to be one of those disappointing nights, isn't it?"

You wouldn't have been going out on a limb with that kind of thought. There was no Alessandro Del Piero, the defense featured nobody under the age of 31 and didn't have Gianluigi Buffon or Giorgio Chiellini was the most noticeable of them all.

Boy, were we wrong.

Not only did Juve's old dudes come through against Fulham, they lead the way. Goals from Nicola Legrottaglie, Jonathan Zebina, and David Trezeguet cancelled out a lucky Dickson Etuhu goal to give the Old Lady a 3-1 advantage going into the second leg in London.

And Juve came out of the blocks hot as they opened the scoring just nine minutes in.

David Trezeguet had Juve's first chance of the game when he nodded on a Claudio Marchisio cross that was tipped away by Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer. The result from Trezeguet's effort was not only a corner kick, but also the game's opening goal. Diego sent in a picture-perfect cross from the corner and Legrottaglie, who was completely unmarked, rose up and headed the ball into the back of the net to give his team the 1-0 lead.

Fulham had a chance to equalize just moments after they went down a goal when Damien Duff pulled back from the byline but Simon Davis couldn't put anything on goal. That chance was answered by Juve, who was keeping the pressure going, as Antonio Candreva and Trezeguet had chances to double the lead in the following minutes.

Then, in the 25th minute, maybe the biggest stunner of the whole match came off the right foot of Zebina.

The 31-year-old French fullback dribbled past two defenders and then unleashed a heat-seeking missile with his right. Schwarzer had absolutely no chance at all as Zebina's shot found side netting at the back post to put Juve up by two.

To make things even better, it was Zebina's first goal in a Juventus jersey. No big deal about that until you remember he had been with the club since 2004.

Fulham answered Zebina's strike with one of their own. Although, the way they scored it was incredibly lucky.

A Davies free kick bounced off of Zoltan Gera and right to Etuhu who then saw his shot (that was clearly going wide) to a huge deflection off of Legrottaglie's shin and into the back of the net. Juve keeper Alex Manninger had absolutely no chance to stop the deflected shot as he was expecting the shot to roll wide of his goal the right.

But four minutes later, Fulham had a flury of chances with Manninger being called into action. Buffon's understudy was more than up to the task. Brede Hangeland, Bobby Zamora, and Gera all had chances to score but were all denied by Manninger.

In stoppages, Juve made it 3-1 thanks to Trezeguet. After Fabio Grosso's blast was tipped over by Schwarzer, Trezeguet thumped one off the right upright and then put away the rebound with another fierce strike.

With the 3-1 lead, Juventus were able to slow things down in the second half and play with the ball on the ground. The chances to score weren't as abundant as they were in the first 45 minutes, but the build up to the chances was something that they haven't been able to do much at all lately.

Legrottaglie nearly had his second when he again had a chance to put in a header in the back of the net on a corner. This time, the Italian center back nodded it over the bar.

Fulham's best chance of the second half came with about 30 minutes left when Aaron Hughes' free kick was headed across by Gera but the ball was just out of the reach of Zamora.

And from then on, the Cottagers couldn't manage much of anything.

The patchwork defense of old guys shut things down. Legrottaglie was huge in the back. The same can be said for Legrottaglie's partner in the center, Fabio Cannavaro, who had his best performance in a long time in the black and white.

Juve, when the opportunity presented itself, attacked Schwartzer's goal even though they were up two. The finishing in front of goal wasn't like it was in the first half, but the Bianconeri were clearly in charge of the game and dictating its every move.

In the closing moments, Diego could've put a massive dagger in the Fulham coffin when he teed one up from 20 yards out. It was a hard shot for the Schwarzer to handle, as it was dipping down just before it reached his hands, but he did well and parried it out for a corner.

Juventus controls their own destiny as they head to London next week up two goals.

However, the Cottagers are a different kind of team when they are at home. It's certainly not over yet.