Juventus win Ranieri a reprieve

Victory for struggling Italians over Real takes heat off under-fire coach
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The Independent Football

Juventus look to have bought some time for their beleaguered coach, Claudio Ranieri, with Tuesday night's emotional 2-1 victory in Turin over Real Madrid in the Champions League when the club were mourning two supporters killed in a road accident on the way to the game.

"Tonight we have been a bit lucky but I must give credit to the players because they were compact and stopped Real playing like they are used to," Ranieri said after the game.

Goals from Alessandro del Piero and Amauri brought a much-needed victory, Del Piero latching on to Amauri's pass and curling the ball into the top corner from 25 yards after five minutes, then his strike partner finding the net in the 49th minute with a far-post header from a Pavel Nedved cross that deflected in off Real's Gabriel Heinze.

"We knew we were not doing so well this year but some of the criticism has been excessive. I knew the club was behind me," added Ranieri, whose side are languishing in 12th place in Serie A.

Real were on a high after beating Atletico Madrid 2-1 in last weekend's derby but it was stuttering Juventus who came flying out of the traps.

"In Spain we are used to starting games well but tonight it was complicated. Juventus were quick off the mark and it was tough for us," the Real coach Bernd Schuster said.

"Everyone said Juve were not in great form but they showed tonight they are an aggressive side. We must find new resolve and beat Juve at home and move forward." Juventus now top Group H, one point ahead of Real and five points in front of third-placed BATE Borisov, who drew 1-1 at Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday. The return game between Juventus and Real is at the Bernabeu in two weeks' time and Ranieri's side know that victory should guarantee them a place in the knockout stages.

In Turin, all Real could really muster until Ruud van Nistelrooy's 66th-minute goal was a few long-range efforts, with Wesley Sneijder striking the post.

Real's former Juve defender Fabio Cannavaro was booed all night by the home crowd for quitting the Turin club following their demotion to Serie B for match-fixing two years ago.

A minute's applause was held before kick-off after two Switzerland-based Juve supporters were killed and several injured when a coach crashed on its way to the game.

Home fans lightened the mood by waving thousands of black and white flags and really getting behind the twice European champions, who are back in the Champions League for the first time since the 2006 scandal.

"It was a game we have dreamed about for a long time," said Ranieri.

In Arsenal's Group G, Porto suffered a major blow to their chances of reaching the last 16 when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Dynamo Kiev.

The Portuguese champions, who won the European Cup four years ago, were undone when Olexander Aliyev struck midway through the first half at the Estadio do Dragao.

"I am very sad but we are still determined to qualify. We will now be aiming to win our next two ties [against Kiev and Fenerbahce]," the Porto coach, Jesualdo Ferreira, said.

"We completely controlled the first half," Ferreira added. "In the second half we did all we could but they clammed up. It's very sad for us."

It gave Dynamo their first Champions League win in 16 games and ended Porto's unbeaten home run in Europe's premier team competition that had stretched back 11 games.

Lucho Gonzalez nearly gave Porto the lead in the 17th minute when he met a cross from Lisandro Lopez inside the area but hit the post.

Aliyev broke the deadlock in the 27th minute with a powerful free-kick that curled in at the far post.

Lopez then breached the Dynamo defence in the 30th minute before sending a low shot past the post, and 10 minutes later Cristiano Rodriguez also put his effort just wide.

Porto tried their best to draw level but they were foiled by Dynamo's well-organised defence. Brazilian striker Hulk could have equalised late on but his header flew over the bar.

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