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Soccer: Juve blast conditions after Euro ejection

Turin side lose at Galatasaray, slump out of Champions League

11 December, 18:37
Soccer: Juve blast conditions after Euro ejection (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, December 11 - Juventus coach Antonio Conte said Wednesday that his side were penalised by dangerous playing conditions after they were turfed out of the Champions League with a 1-0 defeat at Galatasaray in their final Group B match.

The game resumed from the 31st minute on Wednesday after being abandoned on Tuesday due to a heavy fall of snow and hail.

Although the weather was slightly better on Wednesday, the pitch was extremely heavy after all the snow that landed on it and it was difficult to play on. "We have been penalised in an enormous way," said Conte. "This elimination is unjust in my opinion. We tried to have it postponed. We had a meeting with the UEFA delegate but no one wanted to listen to us.

"(Galatasaray coach Roberto) Mancini said it was dangerous to play and I added 'I think so'.

"In these conditions, it wasn't soccer. We didn't play on a field, but on a bog.

"It was dangerous to play yesterday and it was dangerous to play today". Conte admitted, however, that Juve had "complicated life" by picking up just five points in the previous five group games, meaning that qualification for the knockout round was still at stake in the last match. Galatasaray picked up four of their seven points against Juve, as they held the Italians to a 2-2 draw in Turin in October.

Former Inter Milan playmaker Wesley Sneijder struck five minutes from time on Wednesday to seal the Turkish side's qualification for the knockout stage of Europe's premier club competition. The Dutchman Sneijder fired a low right-footed shot past Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon and into the bottom-left corner in the closing stages after Ivorian forward Didier Drogba headed a long ball into his path.

Before that the Italian champions suffered few problems in defence and looked on course to hold on for the draw they had needed to go through.

Drogba had posed the biggest threat prior to the goal, surging into the area in the 12th minute of the second half and unleashing a powerful shot that Buffon got down quickly to block.

Juve finished the group in third place and will now enter the round of 32 of the continent's secondary competition, the Europa League.

The final of this year's Europa League is at the Juventus Stadium.

Galatasaray leapfrogged Juventus, twice European champions, to finish second in the group with seven points, one more than the Turin side and nine less than first-placed Real Madrid.

Copenhagen came last with four points and exit European competition this season. "We should have just come here for a holiday, instead we were made to pay for the points we dropped in (a 1-1 draw in) Copenhagen and the first game against Galatasaray," said Juve's Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

"This wasn't really football today, we weren't able to do the things we'd worked on over the last few days. "We're all very disappointed because getting to at least the last 16 of the Champions League was an important target in terms of our progress.

"Now we'll have to do what (2011-2012 European champions) Chelsea did last season.

"They went out in the group stage yet found the strength to pull themselves together and win the Europa League. "It's too early to talk about the final in Turin now though. There are too many games to play and first we need to think about the league and the Italian Cup". Later on Wednesday seven-time European champions AC Milan host Ajax needing a draw to qualify from Champions League Group H. Napoli must beat Arsenal by three goals at home, meanwhile, to be sure of progressing from Group F.

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