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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 11:22 GMT
Man Utd's Italian conquests
John Sinnott
BBC Sport

Ruud van Nistelrooy scores for Man Utd against Juventus at Old Trafford
Van Nistelrooy scored Man Utd's second against Juventus

Manchester United's Champions League matches with Juventus have always had a special significance.

And after last week's 2-1 home victory at Old Trafford, United have seized the upper hand.

Another point against the Italian giants in Turin on Tuesday will guarantee Champions League progression for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

The special nature of the fixture is partly because confrontations between these two teams have thrown up some classic encounters.

But more importantly because a couple of wins - the first at Old Trafford, the second in Turin - have proved key to United's development as a team in Europe's premier competition.

The first in 1997 gave United their first win over Italian opposition for 18 years.

The second in 1999 - a pulsating victory after United had trailed by two goals - propelled Sir Alex Ferguson's side into their first European Cup Final in 31 years.

Yet previously, Ferguson's young side team had struggled against Italy's Old Lady.

In the 1996/97 season United were twice beaten by Juventus as the Italian side began to take on the look of a Goliath.

"I stood in the tunnel before kick-off and the Juventus players made ours look small," Ferguson once said of a visit to Turin.

But two wins for United reshaped the balance between the two sides as United twice slayed Goliath.

Manchester United 3-2 Juventus - Old Trafford - 1 October 1997 - Champions League group game

Without the injured Roy Keane, United found themselves behind within 20 seconds to an Alessandro del Piero goal.

In Keane's absence, Ferguson had deployed Ronnie Johnsen in midfield to keep track of Zinedine Zidane, though late in the first half United also lost Nicky Butt through concussion.

A Teddy Sheringham header pulled United level and soon after Didier Deschamps had been sent off, Paul Scholes, who had come on for Butt, grabbed United's second.

Late in the match, Ryan Giggs capped a fine performance as he sent a shot rocketing past Angelo Peruzzi.

In stoppage time Zidane reduced the deficit with a superb free-kick, but United held on to win.

Juventus 2-3 Manchester United - Stadio delle Alpi - 21 April 1999 - Champions League second-leg semi-final

The first-leg of the semi-final at Old Trafford had ended 1-1, meaning United needed to score at least one goal if they were to qualify for the final in Barcelona.

Within 10 minutes, United found themselves needing to score twice as Juventus raced into a two-goal lead.

Zidane's cross eluded everyone except Filippo Inzaghi, who bundled the ball home at the far post.

The Italian international striker then snatched a second, his left-foot shot taking a deflection off Jaap Stam and spiralling over Peter Schmeichel.

Midway through the first half, United pulled a goal back when Keane powered a header home from a David Beckham corner.

Just past the half-hour Keane picked up a yellow card for his tackle on Zidane, a caution that ruled the United midfielder out of the final.

United redoubled their efforts, and on 34 minutes Dwight Yorke headed home his 27th goal of that season.

In the game's closing stages, Andy Cole claimed the winner to give United their first win over Italian opposition on home soil for the first time in their history.

In doing so United also secured their passage to Barcelona, and ultimately a second European Cup triumph.

Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson
"The spectators are in for a great game"


Champions League preview
24 Feb 03 |  Champions League
Juventus v Man Utd
25 Feb 03 |  Champions League

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