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No consolation for Celtic as Juve breeze on

ESPN staff
March 6, 2013
Celtic's chances were extinguished after Alessandro Matri grabbed an early goal © Getty Images
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Celtic duly exited the Champions League at the hands of Juventus on Wednesday, as they succumbed 2-0 in Turin to complete a 5-0 aggregate defeat.

Goals from Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella killed off the tie for the Serie A champions, as the Scottish side once again failed to find the net desperate creating a number of reasonable openings.

However, in the final analysis, Celtic can only look at their European campaign in a positive light.

The Hoops won two qualifiers against HJK Helsinki and Helsingborg, before finishing second in Group G to Barcelona - whom they famously beat at Celtic Park - at the expense of Benfica and Spartak Moscow.

Lennon will have another crack at it next year and although they will have to negotiate three qualifiers, his players will be all the better for this season's continental experiences.

The former Celtic skipper had travelled to Italy looking for at least a win and to that end he made four changes to his side. Charlie Mulgrew, Beram Kayal, Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons came in at the expense of Efe Ambrose, Thomas Rogne, James Forrest and Anthony Stokes, all of whom started on the bench.

Samaras, who had scored in each of the five away European ties in the campaign, was stand-in skipper while Victor Wanyama stepped back from midfield to partner Kelvin Wilson, in the surprise absence of Ambrose.

The noise inside the ultra-modern Juventus stadium in the early stages was ear-splitting at times but Celtic did not appear intimidated.

With Gary Hooper and Samaras in attack, supported by Commons through the centre, the visitors edged forward with some confidence looking for the first goal which was needed to give them any sort of realistic chance of rescuing the tie.

In the 21st minute the Scottish champions came close to getting the opener when Commons capitalised on slack play to set up Joe Ledley, whose drive from 25 yards whistled just past Gianluigi Buffon's left-hand post.

However, three minutes later any remote chance of a comeback disappeared when Juventus took the lead, after Hooper had lost possession. When Quagliarella's low drive from 16 yards was parried by Forster, Matri was first to the rebound to knock the ball into the net.

The Parkhead side, stunned as they were, kept pushing forward and three minutes later Commons' shot from 25 yards took a deflection off Hooper and had Buffon in trouble - but the veteran goalkeeper reacted sharply to push the ball behind for a corner, which came to nothing.

After Vidal had curled a shot over the bar to end a Juve break, Hooper was only inches away from getting a toe to Samaras' cut-back after the big Greece striker had powered his way to the byline. Kayal had a weak header from an Emilio Izaguirre cross saved by Buffon and Forster finished the half with a decent save from Vidal as again the Celtic rearguard parted.

David Beckham did not get on the pitch against Valencia © PA Photos
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Ambrose replaced Wanyama for the start of the second half and within six minutes right-back Adam Matthews was carried off on a stretcher after appearing to injure his hamstring, his place taken by Forrest.

In between that, Forster made a good save from Quagliarella and as the game stretched it promised more goals at both ends.

In the 58th minute Ambrose headed a Mulgrew corner past the near post before Commons tried his luck with an effort from long distance which was easily saved by Buffon.

Juventus' second goal was rather simple. Pirlo's pass found the tireless Vidal breaking past Izaguirre and when he squared to Quagliarella the Juve striker tapped into an empty net.

It became a matter of playing out time for both sides although Samaras fired over the bar from the edge of the box with eight minutes remaining when a goal might have been just reward for Celtic for their efforts over the two games.

In the night's other game, David Beckham was an unused substitute as Paris St Germain narrowly defeated Valencia; a 1-1 draw on the night securing a 3-2 aggregate success.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg, PSG looked relatively comfortable - if somewhat unthreatening - until Jonas scored from long range shortly after half-time. That meant a further goal for the Spanish side would see them through, but Ezequiel Lavezzi bundled home with just over 20 minutes remaining to ease the pressure on Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Another Valencia goal would have forced extra-time, but one was not forthcoming as the French side held on to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.

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