Two giants of European football, Juventus and Paris-Saint Germain have returned to the last stages of the Champions League with respective qualifications on March 6. Juventus reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years when they beat Celtic 2-0 to complete an emphatic 5-0 aggregate win in their last-16 tie.
Leading 3-0 from the first leg in Glasgow, the Serie A champions and leaders avoided any scares as Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella gave them their fifth successive win in the competition, all without conceding a goal.
Despite resting Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Claudio Marchisio, they also extended their unbeaten run in European competition to 18 games.
Celtic were far from outplayed in the first half, enjoying long periods of possession. The hosts preferred to sit back and play on the counter, but looked like scoring every time they broke forward.
Their first goal came from one such move when Andrea Barzagli won the ball in midfield and released Quagliarella. Although his shot was saved by Fraser Forster, Matri was on hand to roll the ball into the net.
Arturo Vidal wasted two chances to increase Juve’s lead before the break and Celtic could have equalised when Giorgos Samaras sent the ball flashing across the face of the goal, but nobody was on hand to turn it in.
Forster made a superb save to deny Matri at the start of the first half but was powerless in the 65th minute when Pirlo chipped the ball over the Celtic defence to Vidal, who rolled the ball for Quagliarella to score into an empty net.
Lavezzi salvages draw, secures qualification
Meanwhile Argentine striker Ezequiel Lavezzi salvaged a 1-1 home draw for Paris St Germain who overcame Valencia 3-2 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 18 years.
After a first half short on entertainment, Valencia made the tie interesting when Brazilian Jonas put the Spaniards ahead with a superb 25-metre strike on 55 minutes.
But Lavezzi hauled Qatar-backed PSG level 11 minutes later, scoring at the second attempt after his initial shot was parried back to him by keeper Vicente Guaita.
The Ligue 1 leaders, who have not lost at their Parc des Princes home in 23 European matches since 2006, last played in the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition in 1995 when they reached the semi-finals.