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Del Piero reigns in the rain

Juventus 1 Shamrock Rovers 0 (Juventus won 3-0 on aggregate)

They came fearing a lesson from the Old Lady, but in the end, Shamrock Rovers thrived in a game dominated by the worst excesses of Mother Nature until a footballing act of divine intervention.

Juve fans worship at the altar of Alessandro Del Piero and he came off the bench to produce a stunning free-kick, a dipping thunderbolt from 30 yards, that might just creep onto a package of his greatest goals.

There was no shame for the League of Ireland side in losing to a strike of that quality.

Considering the dominance of their millionaire opponents in their two-goal first-leg success, few had expected the Dubliners to retain parity for 74 minutes on Italian soil.

They exited the Europa League with their heads held high, with an ovation from the large travelling contingent and generous applause from sections of the Juventus followers at the Stadio Alberto Braglia.

In truth, this game probably shouldn't have gone ahead, given the prevailing conditions in the early stages with puddles around the pitch making any form of passing impossible and making safety a serious concern.

A torrential downpour an hour before kick-off made the conditions pretty horrific for the travelling support, considering they were located at the one uncovered end of the Serie B end.

Juve fans were desperate to see one man, a certain Del Piero. After the resumption, they got their wish with the legendary World Cup winner replacing Diego.

There was no glaring signs of danger when Murray committed a soft foul on Amauri 30 yards from goal. Del Piero changed that, with an 'A list' contribution that outfoxed Alan Mannus and smashed into the net.

Not enough, however, to dampen Rovers' spirits. On this night, after this European adventure, nothing could.

JUVENTUS: Storari, Motta, Chiellini, Bonucci, De Ceglie, Pepe, Sissoko, Marchisio, Lanzafame, Diego (Del Piero 45), Amauri (Trezeguet 81).

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus, Flynn, Price, Murray, Murphy, Kavanagh (Stewart 45), Chambers (Turner 45), Bradley, Rice (Bayly 60), Dennehy, Twigg

Referee: Georgios Daloukas (Greece).

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