Carragher's courage seals triumph for Liverpool on ugly night in Turin

<preform>Juventus 0 - Liverpool 0</br>Liverpool win 2-1 on agg</preform>
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The Independent Football

A balmy evening, not unlike the fateful, fatal night at Heysel, did have one thing in common with 1985. This time it was not, mercifully, piles of stricken bodies - the debris in the Stadio Delle Alpi was confined to the full plastic bottles hurled between the rival sets of supporters - but the sight of Liverpool advancing to the last four of Europe's premier tournament for the first time since football's blackest spring.

A balmy evening, not unlike the fateful, fatal night at Heysel, did have one thing in common with 1985. This time it was not, mercifully, piles of stricken bodies ­ the debris in the Stadio Delle Alpi was confined to the full plastic bottles hurled between the rival sets of supporters ­ but the sight of Liverpool advancing to the last four of Europe's premier tournament for the first time since football's blackest spring.

There, after a display bristling with discipline and defiance that took its cue from Jamie Carragher, they will face Chelsea in the first all-English Champions' League semi-final for the right to contest the trophy in Istanbul next month. Liverpool will not care that Jose Mourinho's side have beaten them three times this season.

In this competition, they are unrecognisable from the humdrum collection lying fifth in the Premiership. They even underlined their moral ascendancy over the 90 minutes by bringing on Djibril Cissé, the £14m France forward, for his first match action of any kind since he suffered a career-threatening leg fracture six months ago.

Only once, with 14 minutes remaining, did Liverpool come close to conceding the goal that would have given an astonishingly inept Juventus team an undeserved tilt at Chelsea. Fabio Cannavaro directed a header against the far post, but Jerzy Dudek plunged on the loose ball as the players of the "Old Lady", who lived down to the club's nickname on the night, argued unjustifiably that the ball had crossed the line.

Many Juventus supporters doubtless went home convinced that they had been denied a legitimate goal. Yet the highly charged atmosphere that they generated ­ the stands were awash with angry, indignant banners about the carnage that preceded the clubs' meeting in the Brussels final 20 years earlier ­ self-evidently inhibited rather than inspired Juve.

Understandable as the bitterness remains, there was a match to be played by young men who, in the majority of cases, were small boys when the wall in Block Z crumbled at Heysel, claiming 39 lives. The side put together in the face of a lengthy injury list by Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, did him proud. No one more so than Carragher, though this was a "team" performance in Anfield's best traditions.

Benitez decided that Scott Carson, who was still a twinkle in his parents' eyes this time 20 years ago, was too raw for such an occasion after only seven senior outings and recalled Dudek in goal. The choice was handsomely vindicated as the Pole held firm in the face of some desperate pressure by Juventus during the closing stages.

Xabi Alonso, who came in for the injured Steven Gerrard, despite having played only 45 minutes' reserve football since New Year's Day, also rose to the occasion in a manner befitting a £10.6m player. Gerrard may drive Liverpool on in inspirational style, but Alonso's calm authority, allied to a comparable passing range, made him a splendid replacement.

The circumstances surrounding the encounter ensured every decision against Juventus was greeted with righteous wrath from the stands.

The mood transmitted itself to the pitch, with the result that Fabio Capello's players were often distracted by their protestations to the Russian referee. Liverpool, by contrast, had a composed, organised look, with the less than ferocious early tempo suiting Alonso.

Scoring opportunities were scarce. Zlatan Ibrahimovic spurned the best, hoisting the ball over the bar in the 10th minute when he had only to side-foot Gianluca Zambrotta's cross past Dudek.

Yet Juventus' passing was slapdash, their movement bereft of rhythm. Pavel Nedved, who roamed between the two red banks of four, was below par, though his commitment shamed the languid Alessandro Del Piero. Capello was sufficiently perturbed by Juventus' lack of penetration to bring on a third forward, Marcelo Zalayeta, after the break, but he never ruffled the cool of Carragher and co.

Benitez knew that if Liverpool scored first, it would create all manner of uncertainty in the Juve ranks. Baros had the chance to do so three minutes into the second half, beating Lilian Thuram to a through-ball by Alonso. From the angle of the six-yard box, however, the Czech international striker failed to hit the target, scuffing his shot tantalisingly wide.

In Juventus' next attack, the ball dropped nicely for Ibrahimovic to swivel and volley. Liverpool need not have feared: under the scrutiny of the former Ajax attacker's fellow Swede, the watching Sven Goran Eriksson, Carragher executed a perfectly timed block.

In the previous round, Juventus and their fans had been united in positive intent, the force of their fervour helping to unhinge Real Madrid. Here, it was if the weight of their supporters' expectations ­ the need to settle a score with Liverpool and in doing so, honour or even avenge the dead ­ was too heavy a burden for some of Capello's players.

More than an hour had passed before either goalkeeper made a save of note. Mauro Camoranesi swung in a free-kick from the right to which Emerson, the captain of Brazil, applied a flashing header. Dudek made a fine diving catch, demonstrating similar safe handling when Ibrahimovic lumbered in to challenge for a cross by Camoranesi.

With time ebbing away for Juventus, the situation was crying out for Capello to make further adjustments. It was surely not necessary, for instance, for Baros or Cissé to be policed by four defenders. Yet the malaise went beyond tactical niceties; it was one of temperament.

Juventus (4-4-2): Buffon; Thuram, Montero (Pessotto, 82), Cannavaro, Zambrotta; Camoranesi (Appiah, 83), Emerson, Oliviera (Zalayeta, h-t), Nedved; Ibrahimovic, Del Piero. Substitutes not used: Chimenti (gk), Birindelli, Blasi, Masiello.

Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Dudek; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Traoré; Nuñez (Smicer, 57), Xabi Alonso, Biscan, Riise; Luis Garcia (Le Tallec, 85); Baros (Cissé, 75). Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Warnock, Welsh, Potter.

Referee: N Ivanov (Russia).

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