- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TURIN, Italy (AP) - Juventus progressed to the knockout stage of the Champions League as it drew 0-0 at home to already qualified Atletico Madrid, which went through as group winner.

Juventus, which was eliminated in the final group match last season by Galatasaray, needed just a point to qualify although victory by two goals or more would have seen it leapfrog Atletico into top spot.

The home side dominated possession but struggled to create clear-cut scoring opportunities and took almost an hour to first test Atletico goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya.

“At the end of the day it was the result which counted,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “That was our first aim of the season, to get through the group, and that’s never easy.

“We fought well in the first half and then in the second we tried to score but without risking anything. But we’re through to the last 16. Now we’ll wait for the draw and focus on the league. Juve showed it can have a great Champions League campaign.”

Atletico, which was content to soak up the pressure and hit Juventus on the counter, had the best of the chances and also hit the post.

“We are happy. This is the second year in a row we are in the Champions League and for the second year in a row we go through as group winner,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “The first half was very intense, with more chances for us. Then in the second half it was a tighter game, we were waiting for the opportunity to counter attack.

“I am very happy with the work of my lads. The whole squad played well in both games against Juventus.”

Olympiakos finished third in Group A, a point behind Juventus, with a 4-2 win over Malmo.

Juventus was unbeaten in its previous nine European home matches but Atletico - last season’s runner-up - had won five of its past six Champions League away fixtures.

Claudio Marchisio was a late injury absentee, with the Juventus midfielder suffering from flu.

Juventus started brightly and had a chance to take the lead after just two minutes when Carlos Tevez was brought down just outside the area. There was an expectant hush as Andrea Pirlo stepped up but he drove his effort into the wall.

Shortly afterwards, Juventus almost gifted Atletico a goal but Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon pulled off a save to deny Koke after a flurry of defensive errors had seen the ball arrive with the Atletico midfielder, rushing unmarked into the box.

Fernando Llorente just failed to get on the end of a tantalizing Paul Pogba ball into the box and Juventus also had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the 19th minute when Tevez’s shot crashed off Diego Godin’s arm from point-blank range.

Juventus had Atletico pinned back inside its half but couldn’t manage a shot on target and it was the Spanish side that went closest to taking the lead as Buffon had to palm a dangerous Jose Maria Gimenez header out from under his bar.

Buffon was again called into action at the end of the first half, diving smartly to his left to parry Mario Suarez’s stinging effort.

Atletico went close again minutes after the restart when Gabi’s corner cracked off the outside of the near post.

For all its possession, it took Juventus nearly an hour to have its first shot on target but Moya turned Arturo Vidal’s shot around the upright.

Moya couldn’t hold a Pogba snapshot from distance but, with Vidal rushing in, the Atletico defense scrambled it clear to spare their goalkeeper’s blushes.

Juventus fans still had bad memories of last year’s final group match, when Wesley Sneijder’s late goal consigned it to the Europa League.

But there was little danger of history repeating itself. The tempo had visibly dropped from the first half and, although Vidal and Pogba had attempts from distance, both teams appeared content to play out the draw.


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