Anyone planning to visit an Italian restaurant on 28 May is advised to reconsider. Service might be on the slow side. That night Old Trafford will host the first all-Italian European Cup final after Juventus last night dethroned the holders, Real Madrid, to earn the right to meet Milan.
Having beaten Juventus home and away this season, Manchester United will find hosting an ironic honour but this was a very different Juventus to the one which also lost to Basle and Newcastle United. Building on the confidence engendered by the weekend acquisition of their 27th Serie A title, Juventus were manifestly the better side, with the midfield quartet of Pavel Nedved, Gianluca Zambrotta, Edgar Davids and Alessio Tacchinardi outstanding.
The strikers also performed, with David Trezeguet erasing Real's first leg lead after 11 minutes and Alessandro Del Piero putting Juventus ahead on aggregate after 42. As Real rallied Gianluigi Buffon took a turn, saving a weak penalty by Luis Figo. Pavel Nedved then appeared to make the tie safe after 72 minutes only for Zinedine Zidane, making his first appearance in Turin since moving to Madrid two years ago, to shoot home two minutes from time. This prompted a tense finish in which Raul planted just wide an injury-time header which would have won the tie.
Juve's joy was tempered by the knowledge that Nedved will be suspended for the final after incurring their 34th booking of the competition and his third. They should also have lost Paolo Montero. Booked for balking Figo, he should have been dismissed for conceding the penalty by tripping Ronaldo.
The drama made for a rare atmosphere in this stadium, the best said regulars since England met Germany here in the 1990 World Cup semi-final. Those who came were soon rewarded. Nedved, given a roving commission at the apex of a midfield diamond, twice picked out Del Piero with precision crosses from the right. The first was scooped over the bar but the second headed down for Trezeguet to squeeze a shot inside Iker Casillas's near post.
The goal illustrated the space Juventus were finding. Vicente del Bosque had drafted in Flavio Conceicão and Esteban Cambiasso to cover for Claude Makelele in midfield but it was not enough. The injured Frenchman normally does the work of three men and Madrid were overwhelmed, with Zidane unable to direct the game.
It did not help that Raul was just back from surgery and clearly unfit while Ronaldo could only make the bench where he kept Steve McManaman company. Guti took over at centre-forward but, when Figo's 21st-minute shot deflected into his path, unmarked and 10 yards out, he froze and shot at Buffon.
Del Piero was far calmer when, after Casillas had denied Trezeguet, an aimless clearance by Igor Tudor fell at his feet. He worked himself an angle and scored inside the near post.
It was no surprise to see Ronaldo warming up during the interval and, six minutes into the second period, come on. Juventus immediately began to sit deeper and, before long, slipped into full defensive mode. The policy was as risky as it was familiar and they ought to have paid the price after 65 minutes when Ronaldo wriggled into the box and was tripped. Figo had scored six penalties this season but Buffon easily pushed this one away.
Real's self-belief ebbed away and they were soon further downcast as Zambrotta sent Nedved away. He followed his resounding finish by risking a caution, sprinting behind the goal and over the running track to celebrate with the Ultras on the Curva Sud. The Czech escaped then but with eight minutes remaining he brought down McManaman, sent on to engineer an unlikely revival. As Urs Meier raised the yellow card, Nedved sank to his knees. The final will be a bitter-sweet occasion for him but he may find some who understand his pain. He was booked just yards from the spots where Roy Keane and Paul Scholes received the cautions which ruled them out of Manchester United's 1999 triumph.
Juventus (4-1-2-1-2): Buffon; Thuram, Tudor, Montero, Birindelli (Pessotto, 59); Tacchinardi; Zambrotta, Davids (Conte, 88); Nedved; Trezeguet (Camoranesi, 75), Del Piero. Substitutes not used: Chimenti (gk), Fresi, Di Vaio, Zalayeta.
Real Madrid (4-4-2): Casillas; Michel Salgado, Hierro, Ivan Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Figo, Flavio Conceicão (Ronaldo, 51), Cambiasso (McManaman, 75), Zidane; Raul, Guti. Substitutes not used: Pavon, Cesar (gk), Morientes, Portillo, Solari.
Referee: U Meier (Switzerland).
- More about:
- Atletico De Madrid
- Claude Makelele
- Feet (anatomy)
- Italian Football
- Real Madrid