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del Piero strikes twice as Juve wins

Manchester United, Arsenal and Bayern Munich held

LONDON: Juventus joined Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon in the knockout round of the Champions League after two goals by Alessandro del Piero gave the Italian team a 2-0 victory at Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Defending champion Manchester United is almost through following Ryan Giggs’s 84th-minute header in a 1-1 draw at Celtic. But two more group leaders, Bayern Munich and Arsenal, were also held to draws and still have work to do from their final two matches.

With new Argentina coach Diego Maradona watching to see some of his countrymen in action, Italian veteran del Piero, who first played in a Champions League final 12 years ago, scored in the 17th and 67th minutes at Bernabeu Stadium to give Juventus 10 points from four games.

“I’m pleased to have scored in front of Maradona. I hope Diego comes to watch us play more often,” said del Piero, who received a standing ovation from the Madrid fans in the 80,000 crowd.

Claudio Ranieri’s team is four ahead of Madrid and six ahead of Zenit St. Petersburg, which won 2-0 at BATE Borisov.

Although Zenit, last season’s UEFA Cup winner, can reach 10 points by winning its last two games, that would mean Madrid could only finish with a maximum of nine, ensuring Juventus is guaranteed of finishing in the top two spots in Group ‘H’.

Drawing first blood

Celtic stunned Man United before the Scottish club’s intimidating 60,000-strong fans in Glasgow when Australian striker Scott McDonald lobbed goalkeeper Ben Foster in the 13th minute. It was the first goal Celtic had scored and the first United had conceded in Group ‘E’.

United dominated possession and finally broke through with six minutes to go when goalkeeper Artur Boruc failed to hold a wickedly swerving shot from Cristiano Ronaldo and Giggs headed home the rebound.

The draw means that United has eight points from four games, the same as Villarreal, which drew 2-2 at Aalborg. But Alex Ferguson’s team still has a six-point lead over Celtic and Aalborg.

Villarreal is almost there too, but could miss out if it loses its last two games to Celtic and United.

Bayern Munich was held 1-1 at Fiorentina after Adrian Mutu gave the Italian side a 10th-minute lead. Tim Borowski replied in the 78th minute for Bayern. The result means the Bundesliga champion has eight points, the same as Lyon, which beat Steaua Bucharest 2-0 after goals by Juninho — a trademark free-kick — and Anthony Reveillere.

The results: Group ‘E’: Celtic 1 (McDonald 13) drew with Manchester United 1 (Giggs 84); Aalborg 2 (Curth 54, Due 81) drew with Villarreal 2 (Rossi 41, Franco 75).

Group ‘F’: Lyon 2 (Juninho 44, Reveillere 89) bt Steaua Bucharest 0; Fiorentina 1 (Mutu 10) drew with Bayern Munich 1 (Borowski 78).

Group ‘G’: Dynamo Kiev 1 (Milevsky 21) lost to FC Porto 2 (Rolando 69, Lucho 90+2); Arsenal 0 drew with Fenerbahce 0.

Group ‘H’: Real Madrid 0 lost to Juventus 2 (del Piero 17, 67); BATE Borisov 0 lost to Zenit St. Petersburg 2 (Pogrebnyak 34, Dani 90+4). — AP

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