Juve have one foot in quarters
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Juventus punished poor defending with some clinical finishing to beat Celtic 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match on Tuesday, virtually sealing the Italian champions' place in the quarterfinals. Mistakes by defender Efe Ambrose, who only returned from African Nations Cup duty on the morning of the match, led to goals by Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic.
Claudio Marchisio had scored the second goal in the 77th at the end of a flowing team move by the current Serie A leaders, who rode their luck before inflicting Celtic's joint-heaviest home loss in European competition.
The scoreline was harsh on Celtic, who dominated the first half and most of the second, only to lack a cutting edge to beat Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The second leg is in Turin on March 6.
Celtic coach Neil Lennon may be regretting playing Ambrose on the day he landed in Scotland after more than a month away with the Nigerian national team. He played in the 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso in the final on Sunday and was rushed back for the biggest game in Celtic's recent history.
For the opener, Ambrose misjudged a routine ball forward in the third minute to leave Matri clean though on goal. The striker poked a finish through goalkeeper Fraser Forster's legs and the ball crossed the line by the time Kelvin Wilson slid in to clear away. Marchisio slammed the loose ball into the net for good measure — with the assistant referee yet to signal — but Matri was awarded the goal.
Marchisio scored Celtic's second, running onto Matri's slick through-ball, cutting inside and firing in a shot that Forster couldn't keep out.
In the 83rd minute, Ambrose pondered too long on the ball before being robbed by Marchisio, who fed Vucinic, who slipped a low finish into the net. To make matters worse for the defender, he missed Celtic's best chance, heading tamely at Buffon in the second half from eight yards.