Juventus coach Marcello Lippi hailed his side after they producerd a spirited performance to overcome Barcelona 2-1 in extra-time, despite being reduced to ten men eleven minutes from the end of normal time.
“The truth is that we are a special team with special qualities and that won us the game tonight,”ÿLippi said.
“We excel at understanding a match and its particular problems and we excel at working out what to do. It may not be spectacular but it is very effective – and spectacular football is not what determines victory.”
Lippi brought on Marcelo Zalayeta and Alessandro Birindelli at half-time and the pair combined to deadly effect six minutes from time, with Birindelli supplying Zalayeta, who scored from close range.
Meanwhile, acting Barcelona coach Radomir Antic was distraught at the outcome.
“Barcelona’s Champions League dream is over, ruined in an unjust, terrible manner,” Antic said.
“I think we gave a great account of ourselves and I would argue that we tried everything to win the game. But in football it’s not always the better team that wins and from my viewpoint we were far, far superior to Juventus. We had our chances but the great maxim of football is that when you don’t take your chances you are always punished and that is what happened.”
Lippi suggested that last night’s result hinted at a renaissance in Italian football.
“I knew that even with ten men we would give nothing to Barcelona,’ he said.
‘We haven’t been in the Champions League semi-finals for quite a long time, but we won the Scudetto last season and now you can see after this performance that Juventus is on the rise again. After difficult years Italian football is fighting back too.”