10.04.2014 23:03 - in: Europa League S

    Pirlo and Marchisio take Juve into Europa League semis

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    The midfield duo strike either side of the interval to ensure the Bianconeri will be in the hat for tomorrow afternoon’s semi-final draw in Nyon. 2-1 on the night in Turin

    Goals from Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio either side of half-time secured the Bianconeri a place in the Europa League semi-finals following this evening’s 2-1 (3-1 on aggregate) victory over Lyon.

    Barely four minutes had elapsed when Pirlo put Juventus on cloud nine with a magnificent free-kick from the edge of the box, while a speculative long-range effort from Marchisio on 68 minutes ensured Jimmy Briand’s first-half equaliser remained a mere consolation for the spirited visitors.

    Urged on by a lively capacity crowd at Juventus Stadium, Antonio Conte’s men burst out the blocks at a rip-roaring pace and could have gone in front as early as the second minute, Carlos Tevez stepping inside his man and cracking a superb 25-yard effort towards goal that whistled narrowly over the bar.

    But there was to be no reprieve for Lyon two minutes later when Pirlo added to his seemingly endless repertoire of free-kicks with another sublime curling strike that left visiting shot-stopper Anthony Lopes firmly rooted to the spot.

    Stung by the midfield maestro’s sixth set-piece goal of the season, Remi Garde’s men rallied and got back on level terms 14 minutes later when Briand connected with Arnold Mvuemba’s looping cross towards the back post and headed past Gigi Buffon.

    Whilst perhaps lacking the usual precision that characterises their passing, Juventus could not be found wanting for effort as they pushed forward in search of an instant response to Lyon’s leveller.

    Yet the counter-attacking threat offered by the French side remained a potential flashpoint, and Buffon had to be alert to push out Maxime Gonalons’ rasping drive from outside the area on 28 minutes.

    This very much set the tone for the remainder of the first half, with Juventus pressure being repelled by stout Lyon defending and subsequent breaks on the counter.

    More encouraging, however, was the beginning of the second period, in which the Bianconeri experienced increasing joy down the left flank through the lung-busting runs of Kwadwo Asamoah.

    First the Ghanaian skipped past his marker to put in a low cross which was nicked away from the feet of Tevez at the last minute, then he went for goal himself, drawing a save from Lopes at his near post.

    Now with added bite in attack following the introduction of Fernando Llorente, Juventus kept their foot on the throttle and thought they had edged back in front when Tevez rose to head Pirlo’s cross into the top corner on 60 minutes, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside.

    Eight minutes later, the fans had just cause to celebrate. Picking up the ball from outside the area and striking from distance, Marchisio saw his shot take a wicked deflection off Samuel Umtiti and loop past a stranded Gomes.

    As the clock ticked down towards the final stages of the game, Remi Garde’s men, now in need of two goals, threw caution to the wind and adopted a more adventurous approach.

    But Juventus stuck dutifully to their task and blew out the flicker of any Lyon comeback hopes with solid defending and sustained periods of possession in the midfield area.

    All eyes will now be on tomorrow afternoon’s Europa League draw in Nyon to see where the next stop of the Bianconeri’s journey home to Juventus Stadium takes them.

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