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24 Oct 2012

Juve pull out all the stops but are held 1-1

After going a goal behind after the restart, the Bianconeri managed to level and went all out for the win, but were thwarted by bad luck and an on-song keeper

It was one of those nights. A huge amount of football on display and dozens of chances, especially in the second period, but at the final whistle the Bianconeri had to settle for a point against Nordsjaelland, their third in as many games in the Champions League. And tonight they had to come from behind having trailed for 30 minutes.

Juve shuffled their pack for the Champions League, making several changes compared to the side that saw off Napoli. Buffon returned between the sticks, Lucio was back in the starting line-up along with Isla and De Ceglie, while Matri joined Giovinco in attack.

Nordsjaelland may not be the biggest club in Europe but they keep the ball well and they tried to use the flanks in the final third, exploiting the movement of Andreas Laudrup, son of legend Michael, and Joshua John, although their two wide men struggled to get to the by-line. De Ceglie managed it for the visitors however on 6 minutes but his cross-shot finished wide, much like long-range efforts from Vidal and Pirlo.

Juve raised the tempo and increased their pressing on the Danes who, in spite of their positive approach to the game, were forced to retreat. Pirlo found Giovinco in the box on 12 minutes with a trademark lofted ball. His first touch was excellent but Okore got back in well to snuff out the danger. Nordsjaelland responded instantly, Lorentzen and then Beckmann shooting from outside the penalty area, but on both occasions Buffon was equal to the task.

It was an enjoyable match, played at a good pace and with both sides playing attacking football. Juve pushed forward down the left and De Ceglie this time crossed for Giovinco but his first-time effort was easily gathered by Hansen. Moments later the keeper hit a long ball which saw John beat the offside trap. The forward looked up to see Buffon racing off his line and looked to lift it over him. Despite racing outside of his area, Gigi was never going to get caught out and used all his experience to divert the ball to safety with his chest. John was to again test the Bianconeri keeper shortly after the half-hour mark but Buffon was out swiftly to put the ball behind for a corner. Moments earlier Juve had gone close themselves, Giovinco rounding Hansen only to see his effort hit the side-netting.

The "Atomic Ant" was Juve’s main threat and he beat Okore on 40 minutes before unleashing a low left-footed drive. Hansen could only beat the ball towards Matri but the striker couldn’t quite reach the rebound.

Juve created a lovely move two minutes short of the interval with Pirlo, Matri and Giovinco combining. The latter’s pass was met by the advancing Marchisio on the volley but his shot was deflected out off the hosts’ defence for a corner.

A 0-0 stalemate as the teams entered the dressing rooms, a result the Bianconeri clearly weren’t happy with given the way they shot out of the blocks after the restart. Within two minutes, Hansen had parried Matri’s header and punched clear Giovinco’s lashed effort.

The second half seemed to be going Juve’s way until Chiellini fouled Laudrup on the edge of the box as the visitors broke. Beckmann curled a beauty into the top corner that Buffon could only get a finger to.

Going a goal down didn’t unsettle Juve though, and they set about attacking again. De Ceglie battled his way down the left and lifted a cross onto Giovinco’s head; the striker hit it well but Hansen managed to reach it at full stretch, then showed fine reflexes to keep out Vidal’s follow-up effort.

The Chilean midfielder had another go with 20 minutes left on the clock but this time it was the Danish defenders who cleared their lines to concede a corner. Two minutes later Vucinic entered the fray as he replaced Matri. Pirlo tried to bend in his fourth goal of the season from a free kick, but Hansen clawed it out of the top corner.

At this point it was all one-way traffic and still the Danish custodian kept standing firm, blocking Isla’s 75th-minute effort. Bendtner came on a minute later with Lucio making way as Juve switched to a 4-3-3. The onslaught continued: Vucinic and Vidal exchanged passes inside the box and the Chilean knocked the ball goalwards as he fell. Again Hansen got just enough of a touch to send it wide.

The Nordsjaelland goalkeeper was finally beaten with nine minutes remaining. Isla swung in a cross from the right and Vucinic was on hand to hit a well-taken volley into the bottom corner.

Juve wanted the three points and Alessio made his final change, Giaccherini taking over from Vidal. Bendtner had the chance to nod in the winner in his homeland on 88 minutes but didn’t connect well and sent it wide. Another effort by Vucinic in a packed box was also deflected off target.

The ball simply did not want to go in. Juve huffed and puffed to the last second but the result didn’t change. That’s now three draws in as many Champions League encounters this campaign and the Bianconeri remain third in the group, a point behind Chelsea, who were beaten in Donetsk by Shakhtar this evening. Now winning really is the only option if we want to reach the knockout stage.

GOALS: Beckmann 51, Vucinic 81

Hansen; Parkhurst, Okore, Runje, Mtiliga; Adu, Stokholm; Laudrup (Christensen 70), Lorentzen (Christiansen 88), John; Beckmann (Nordstrand 67)
Substitutes not used: Villadsen, Gundelach, Ticinovic, Petry
Coach: Hjulmand

Buffon; Lucio (Bendtner 76), Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Vidal (Giacherini 83), Pirlo, Marchisio, De Ceglie; Giovinco, Matri (Vucinic 67)
Substitutes not used: Storari, Caceres, Marrone, Pogba
Coach: Alessio

REFEREE: Aytekin (GER)

BOOKINGS: Marchisio 37, Chiellini 49, Runje 68, Mtliga 78