A superb goal in each half from captain Alessandro Del Piero gave Juventus a victory at Real Madrid CF which secured their place in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round with two matches to spare.
Juventus had not won on this ground in six visits, since a 1-0 triumph in February 1962, yet with Madrid having failed to keep a clean sheet in their preceding nine games, chances were always likely to be forthcoming. So it proved as Del Piero took advantage of hesitant defending to curl in the opener early in the first half, before he ended the home team's challenge with a trademark free-kick midway through the second. A late shot centimetres past the post almost completed a memorable hat-trick for the No10, four days before his 34th birthday, though there was still much for the visitors to celebrate.
After his spectacular double strike at the Santiago Bernabéu downed Real Madrid CF for a second time in as many games, Juventus forward Alessandro Del Piero promised he would "always carry this night in my heart" as his side sealed qualification for the first knockout round of this season's UEFA Champions League.
With his tongue stuck out and arms stretched wide, the Juve No10 defied the look of a man approaching his 34th birthday with his post-goal celebrations, yet his enthusiasm during the 2-0 triumph over the nine-time European Champions Clubs' Cup winners suggests there are many years left in this experienced campaigner. "I'm overwhelmed," the forward said after the game. "We won, we're through and I'm very happy. The fans here gave me a standing ovation when I came off at the end and I want to thank them for their applause. I couldn't have hoped for more from this game."
Madrid will be happy to see the back of the player whose superb fifth-minute strike set Juventus up for a 2-1 win when these sides last met on Matchday 3. With 17 minutes on the clock in Wednesday's rematch in the Spanish capital, Del Piero fired the opener with a sweet left-footed strike from distance and he left Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas motionless midway through the second half with another glorious free-kick to give the visitors their first win at this stadium since 1962. "This night is full of special things," Del Piero enthused. "We are so happy we could live through this moment knowing we haven't been victorious here for 46 years."
Despite a huge injury list, Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri has now guided his charges to five consecutive victories in all competitions – a run that started with that Group H home win over Madrid on 21 October – and as one of the team's elder statesmen, Del Piero believes his team-mates are learning a lot from this season's UEFA Champions League. "We're aware we must play with this winning mentality, this determination. We must fight for every ball and know we can't afford to take anything for granted. Only by playing like we did tonight can we achieve great results; then let's see what happens."
Whoo.. very superb!!! Love this guy, and this team.. hohohoo.. :D