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Mar 6, 2013

Juventus too strong for spirited Celtic

Celtic's Champions League journey ended at the last-16 stage with a 2-0 (5-0 aggregate) defeat to Juventus after goals from Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella separated the sides in rain-lashed Turin.

The Serie A leaders took what turned out to be an unassailable three-goal lead from the first leg into the game and any feint hopes of a Hoops comeback ended in the 24th minute when Matri opened the scoring from close range.

Quagliarella notched the second in the 65th minute as the spirited Parkhead men were again punished heavily for a lack of concentration. However, in the final analysis, Celtic can only look at their European campaign in a positive light.

Celtic's best chance came minutes later but Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon pulled off a one-handed stop on Kris Commons' deflected effort.

It is the first time Juventus has reached the quarterfinals since it was demoted to Serie B in the 2006 match-fixing scandal.

Juventus extended its unbeaten streak in Europe to 18 matches, having lost just one in its last 30 -- including qualifying. The Italian club has not conceded a goal in its last five.

With the series all but decided already, Juventus rested midfielders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Claudio Marchisio, who were both one booking away from a suspension, while defender Giorgio Chiellini and striker Mirko Vucinic were kept on the bench.

Celtic created a lot of pressure in the opening stages but failed to trouble Buffon. The closest it went was in the 21st minute when a fierce, long-range shot by Joe Ledley flew just past the top right corner.

Juventus took the lead just three minutes later. Andrea Barzagli robbed Gary Hooper in midfield and raced forwards before threading it through for Quagliarella. His effort was parried by Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster but Matri was on hand to tap in the rebound for his fifth goal in nine games in 2013.

Celtic almost levelled immediately when Commons' effort was deflected by Hooper, but Buffon pulled off a good reaction save.

Juventus was in complete control and could have extended its lead but Arturo Vidal spooned his shot over the bar from the edge of the area.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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