CL just beginning, say Juventus coach Conte

ROME – Juventus coach Antonio Conte said the Italian giants’ bid for European glory is just beginning after a 2-0 second leg win over Celtic ended the Scots’ faint hopes of making it to the last eight of the Champions League.
Juventus are through to the quarter-finals after seeing off Celtic over two legs.  Net photo.
Juventus are through to the quarter-finals after seeing off Celtic over two legs. Net photo.

ROME – Juventus coach Antonio Conte said the Italian giants’ bid for European glory is just beginning after a 2-0 second leg win over Celtic ended the Scots’ faint hopes of making it to the last eight of the Champions League.

Juve had taken a huge step towards the quarterfinals thanks to a 3-0 win over the Scottish champions at Celtic Park last month.

At a packed but drenched Juventus Stadium, Celtic produced a positive first-half performance but went in for the break 1-0 down after a 24th minute strike by Alessandro Matri.

The visitors continued to press but found Juve’s defence virtually impenetrable and their hopes were over when Fabio Quagliarella tapped home Arturo Vidal’s square ball past a beaten Fraser Forster just after the hour.

Juve’s last appearance in the quarterfinals of the Champions League was in 2006 when they were ousted by Arsenal.

Ahead of next week’s draw, Conte – who was quick to applaud Celtic and their fans – said the Italian champions would be “humble” when it comes to meeting “strong” sides like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid.

Asked how he would approach the next phase of the competition, Conte –who won the Champions League with Juventus as a player in 1988 – said: “We have to wait for the draw.

“I tend to be a fatalist so we have to watch out and see which players we do have available and who we come up against.  “We’re now in a very positive situation, but with some pros and cons. But I hope we will be able overcome the challenges that lie ahead.”

With a six-point lead over Napoli at the top of Serie A, Juve are also in a battle to defend their league title. With the extra challenge, Conte says this stage of the season is crucial.

With Juventus keeping a clean sheet in their past five Champions League games at home, Celtic manager Neil Lennon was left lamenting narrowly failing to score at a ground he labelled a “fortress”.

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