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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff
Apr 24, 2014

Conte: Juve defence 'caught napping'

Juventus coach Antonio Conte criticised his defenders for "falling asleep" after Thursday's 2-1 defeat in the first leg of the Europa League semifinals.

Paul Pogba woe Benfica vs Juventus
Paul Pogba says Juventus will need better concetration to reach the Europa League final.

Rzouki: Juve can recover

Carlos Tevez scored his first goal in Europe in four years to equalise in the 73rd minute, but Benfica substitute Lima sent a rocket past Gianluigi Buffon from just inside the box in the 84th minute for the winner.

"It's a shame, as at that moment we were pushing for our second goal," Conte told Sky Sport Italia. "We fell asleep at the back. We fell asleep. Let's say we were caught napping there."

Conte said he believed his team should not have lost, despite going down 1-0 inside the first two minutes.

"I think there is great regret for this unjust result," Conte said.

"The game didn't start in the best way, as we conceded after a couple of minutes from a set play and knew the enthusiasm for Benfica.

"However, after that we took control and allowed Benfica practically nothing. We felt from one moment to the next they would capitulate, but instead this goal arrived out of nowhere."

Juventus do return home with a crucial away goal earned at Benfica's fortress Estadio da Luz, where they have not lost in any competition this season.

"Optimism and confidence are given to me by the performance tonight,"Conte said. "It wasn't easy to come here and play like this against a team that was unbeaten on home turf."

Juve defender Stephan Lichtsteiner admitted Benfica’s two goals were "avoidable."

"Unfortunately we conceded a silly goal after two minutes which was avoidable. On the second goal we were all lined up in defence, but weren’t focused enough and at this level that gets punished.

"We always had space to do something, even though we were too hasty in the first half. In the second we went down the flanks more.

"We are still in with a good chance of playing the Final in our home stadium."

Paul Pogba said Juventus will need to fine-tune their concentration to overturn the result in the second leg.

"We need to play the same way we did in the second half, but with more concentration," Pogba told Sky Sport Italia.

"We conceded two goals due to errors, but played well overall. We are Juve, so we have to do even more."

Carlos Tevez, who scored his first goal in European competition since playing with Manchester United in April 2009, downplayed his achievement while insisting he's focused on reaching the Europa League final.

"My goal isn't the important thing, as it matters only that we are still in the running for qualification," Tevez told Sport Mediaset.

"I am in good shape physically, so I'm happy. We've got a very good chance of getting through to the next round. Qualification is wide open for the second leg."

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