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Juventus hold firm to knock out Barcelona

Friday, April 21, 2017

Barcelona: A distraught Neymar left the field in tears as Juventus held Barcelona to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou to reach the Champions League semi-finals 3-0 on aggregate.

Barca had overcome a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 with a dramatic 6-1 win back on home soil.

But Juventus yesterday showed why they boast the best defensive record in the competition as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were blunted as the Italians gained revenge for their defeat in the 2015 Champions League final.

"To not concede a goal in two games against Barcelona says a lot about the tactical level of the team," said Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri.

"They had more chances in Turin than they did tonight. The team defended very solidly tonight."

Juventus join holders Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Monaco in Friday's semi-final draw.  "We tried with all our might, but we couldn't find the route to goal," said Barca coach Luis Enrique.

"We played a very poor first half in Turin and that has cost us dearly. I will remember what happened in the first half there."

Straight from kick-off the visitors seemed determined to learn from the French champions' mistakes. Allegri's men pressed high to prevent Barca dominating possession and enjoyed the better of the early chances. Gonzalo Higuain volleyed over from the edge of the area before only a brilliant challenge from Gerard Pique prevented Juan Cuadrado's cross providing Higuain with a tap in.

'BUILT A MOUNTAIN'
Barca had to wait 19 minutes for their first clear sight of goal as they intricately worked the ball around a packed Juventus box before Messi fired inches wide.

Messi then stung Gianluigi Buffon's palms for the first time on the half-hour mark. "Overall they were the better team and deserved to go through," Pique told BeIN Sports Spain.

"Little-by-little we started to create chances, but they built a mountain."

At the other end, Higuain threatened again when he just couldn't get enough power on Miralem Pjanic's dinked cross to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Neymar had been Barca's hero in a remarkable finish with two goals and an assist in the final minutes against PSG.

Yet, he found it far harder up against friend and former Barca teammate Dani Alves and his frustrations at a perceived lack of protection from referee Bjorn Kuipers spilled over as he was booked just before half-time.

Juventus also had the first big chance of the second half as Cuadrado fired across Ter Stegen but wide of the far post.

Ter Stegen was then forced to turn behind another driven effort from the Colombian. Messi was being forced to come deep in search of possession, but he briefly had Juventus hearts in mouths with a low effort that was deflected fractionally wide. Enrique forlornly turned to Paco Alcacer from the bench as the hosts played with four forwards for the final half hour.

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