Marcello Lippi was full of praise for his side’s battling qualities after watching Juventus come back from a 2-0 deficit to secure a draw with Deportivo La Coruna.

“Unfortunately I could not find the way to the ground and arrived 20 minutes late,’ he joked. ‘That was when we started to play great football.”

Juventus recovered after Diego Tristan and Roy Makaay had given the Spanish side a 2-0 lead wiithin 11 minnutes of the kick-off. Second-half goals from Pavel Nedved and Alessandro Birindelli levelled the scores and the reigning Italian champions could well have snatched all three points but for a goal disallowed for offside.

“After the match I think we could have won and we even scored a third goal,” he said referring to the effort which was disallowed for offside.

“Apart from the first 15 minutes we were the better team.”

Deportivo coach Javier Irureta attributed his side’s capitulation to the superior fitness of their Italian opponents.

“We started very well,” he said. “In the first 20 minutes we scored two goals but Juventus were able to recover and controlled the match. Their physical fitness was crucial. Physically, they were stronger than us.”

“We made the changes because the players were tired, not because they were playing badly,” he said.

“The crowd would have chopped my head off if I had made the substitutions when we were 2-0 up. We recovered and could have scored a winner but Alberto Luque and Sergio missed their chances.”