Football: Champions' League: Inzaghi's late strike keeps Juventus in European Cup

Juventus 1 Manchester United 0
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The Independent Online
This was a night Manchester United may yet come to rue. Comfortably qualified for the quarter-finals of the European Cup and coasting accordingly, they finally conceded a goal to Filippo Inzaghi in a dramatic finale in the Stadio delle Alpi last night and allowed Juventus to join them in the last eight.

When Inzaghi headed home a cross by the persistent and powerful Zinedine Zidane six minutes from time, it still seemed that Juve would be going out of the competition. Then came the news from Greece: Rosenborg had only drawn with Olympiakos and the European champions of 1966, runners- up last season, had squeaked through as one of the best two runners-up in the Champions' League. "See you in the final," the Juventus coach, Marcello Lippi, said when he met his Manchester United counterpart, Alex Ferguson, after the game.

There were changes to the expected United line-up, as it emerged that Nicky Butt had a hamstring injury while Andy Cole's calf strain was serious enough to restrict him to the substitutes' bench. Thus David Beckham was moved infield to partner Ronny Johnsen in central midfield, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given a game up front. It meant, too, that Ryan Giggs was pressed into service on the left, despite his yellow card.

In many ways it evened matters up. Juventus were without an important midfield player in the injured Didier Deschamps, as well as their most potent striker, Alessandro del Piero, who, like Cole, had scored five goals in the Champions' League this season. This for a match crucial to their whole season.

That much was reflected in the support they received. The home crowd was in full voice and hurled firecrackers on to the running track. Banners were draped from each of the stadium's three tiers. "Black and White Fighters" one read. Turin demanded.

And it almost received an immediate response. In the game's first attack, Del Piero's replacement, Daniel Fonseca, crossed from the right and Inzaghi rose to head the ball down, Peter Schmeichel falling smartly to clutch the attempt.

So, swiftly chastened, United settled to draw Juve's sting by retaining possession expertly. In one splendid move, Beckham fed Gary Neville, who ferried it on to Karel Poborsky and his cross was met by Giggs with a downward header that Solskjaer swivelled to turn just wide.

From the busy Moreno Torricelli's cross, Inzaghi directed a volley straight at Schmeichel. Inzaghi then saw the ball dribble agonisingly wide after meeting Angelo Di Livio's low cross after Zidane had found him in space.

The tension in the home support was almost tangible as each result from around the groups flashed up on the scoreboard. The anxiety increased as, just before half-time, United forced a flurry of corners, threatening to turn Juventus' task into the size of the nearby Alps.

And the roller-coaster ride intensified for them in the second half. Within seconds of the restart, the substitute Fabio Pecchia headed Fonseca's cross just wide as Schmeichel failed to gather. Lippi lit another cigarette.

It became more agonising. Zidane picked out Fonseca's run into the inside- left channel and the Uruguayan steered a shot against the outside of a post as Schmeichel advanced. In a similar situation, again created by Zidane, Inzaghi then shot into the goalkeeper's sprawling body.

All this against a backdrop of Rosenborg falling behind to increase Italian hopes, then the Norwegian side equalising to dash them. When Pecchia inexplicably turned the ball wide after Zidane's run and cut-back past Schmeichel had found him alone in front of goal, Juventus must have suspected this was not to be their night.

Torricelli played a ball in from the right to the edge of the United penalty area which Zidane controlled neatly and sent in a smart shot which Schmeichel turned brilliantly round his post.

United suggested on the break that they could snatch a winning goal, and it seemed it would come from the substitute Cole when Beckham sent him through, only for Angelo Peruzzi to thwart him at the last.

"We were risking the ball and risking passes and crosses instead of keeping the ball," Ferguson said. "We forgot that a result was important to the club. But I have no complaints, Juve were the better team on the night." All eyes now turn to the draw for the last eight, which will be made next Wednesday.

Juventus (4-4-2): Peruzzi; Birindelli (Dimas, 76), Ferrara, Iuliano, Torricelli; Di Livio, Conte (Montero, 64), Zidane, Tacchinardi (Pecchia, h-t); Fonseca, Inzaghi. Substitutes not used: Cingolani, Aronica, Giandomenico, Rampulla (gk).

Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; G Neville, Berg, Pallister, P Neville; Poborsky (McClair, 80), Beckham, Johnsen, Giggs; Sheringham, Solskjaer (Cole, 74). Substitutes not used: Clegg, Thornley, Mulryne, Curtis, Van Der Gouw (gk).

Referee: G Veissiere (Fr).

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