Alessandro Del Piero Leads Juventus To First Win At the Bernabeu in 46 Years
I have a feeling that Real Madrid are happy that the group stage games against Juventus and Alessandro Del Piero are over.
Continuing their fine form over the past few weeks, Juve beat Real 2-0 for their fifth straight win in all competitions.
The win lengthens Juve's lead in Group H while, more importantly, clinches a spot in the knockout round.
Juventus manager Claudio Ranieri said told Sky Sports Italia after the game: "Winning 2-0 at the Bernabeu is nothing to be sniffed at. We have returned to our best over the past 15 days and the first leg victory gave us back the self-confidence we had lost."
However, unlike the meeting in Turin two weeks ago, Madrid came out of the blocks right away, forcing Juve keeper Alex Manninger into the game in the early going.
On the 17 minute mark, Juve countered. Del Piero skipped past former Juve teammate Fabio Cannavaro then spun a left foot shot past Iker Casillas to score his second goal in as many games against Real.
"Del Piero was excellent, really excellent but it wasn't just today," Ranieri said. "(He) is having fun and he has taken the team on his shoulders and the beautiful thing about Del Piero is that he helps the team and sacrifices himself for everyone and he is truly a real captain."
"It was great to score and this is a fantastic stadium, so it was a very important match for us," the soon to be 34-year-old Del Piero said after the game. "I must admit this is a positive time for me."
Despite going behind early once again, Real came back, fighting for the equalizer, with Rolston Drenthe and Marcelo causing chaos on the right side of the field. However, their crosses couldn't connect as Bianconeri center backs Nicola Legrottaglie and Giorgio Chiellini held strong.
Real had their best chance to answer when Sergio Ramos was left completely unmarked at the back post on a Drenthe cross, but the Spanish international blasted it over the crossbar leaving the Bernabeu crowd shocked that he should miss such a golden opportunity.
As the second half began, it was more of the same. Real kept throwing players forward, the Juve defense bent, but refused to break.
Then, as he did against Roma on Saturday, Del Piero stepped up to take a free kick, this time 30 yards out. A trademark free kick left Casillas standing still, doubling the Juve lead and starting the celebration as Juve grabbed their spot in the last 16.
"You live off nights like this and the unique emotion. It is the ultimate feeling in football". Il Capitano said. "To score two goals and win such a big game, then to be applauded by the opposing fans is a sign of recognition that goes beyond rivalry. It was wonderful."
And as Real brought even more players forward, Chiellini and Manninger stood firm. The Austrian keeper, who wasn't challenged as far as making saves goes in the second half, plucked a Mahamadou Diarra header out of the air before it snuck in at his left post.
In a sign of class, and in honour of the great man, the Bernabeu crowd gave Del Piero a standing ovation as he was substituted for Paolo De Ceglie two minutes before the final whistle.
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