Gianluigi Buffon lifted the final trophy of his brilliant career at Juventus after his team beat Atalanta 2-1 in the Italian Cup on Wednesday to brighten up a disappointing season.
It was a record-breaking 14th Italian Cup title for Juventus and the first for star striker Cristiano Ronaldo after the Bianconeri lost the final last year.
“It was a great emotion today. Finishing in this way makes me proud and I was happy to share with my teammates many adventures until this final, “said the 43-year-old Buffon. Fans today were the icing on the cake.
“They, the people of Juventus, the managers, the president and my teammates will always be a part of my life. I think I have given so much love, professionalism, pride and courage every time I went out on the field with this shirt and I am proud of this. “
Fans managed to celebrate at the stadium for one of the first times in Italy in more than a year. About 4,300 supporters were allowed to attend after the Italian government approved the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia to have a capacity of 20%.
For most of the past year, fans were banned from matches in Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic, except shortly after the start of the season, when up to 1,000 spectators were admitted to the stadiums.
“It was the final deserving of the name in front of the fans. We are happy about that, too, “said Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo, who celebrated his 42nd birthday on Wednesday.
Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Chiesa scored for Juventus, on both sides of Ruslan Malinowski’s equalizer for Atalanta shortly before halftime.
It was Pirlo’s second trophy in his first season as coach after directing Juventus to the Italian Super Cup in January.
However, Juventus saw their nine-year reign as a Serie A champions from Inter Milan and are in danger of finishing out of the top four and missing out on a place in the Champions League.
“We had such a great desire to win, despite a season that was not very positive, we regrouped and I think we deserved this trophy,” said Pirlo.
Atalanta are bidding for their first trophy for the Italian Cup since 1963. So far, they have lost three previous finals, including in 2019 against Lazio.
“Winning the title in Italy is a big challenge for teams outside the ‘big’ and it’s the same for the Italian Cup,” said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini. “We are happy that we reached the final, playing it on equal terms. Just as we are happy to have qualified for the Champions League for the third year in a row.
“Achieving our goals are our victories. I’m disappointed with the boys who played with a great desire to win, but this is football. We are certainly leaving with our heads held high. ”
Gasperini’s lineup started almost perfectly when Duvan Zapata broke into the left side of the zone before pulling for Jose Palomino, but Buffon saved the shot with his feet.
The goalkeeper who won the World Cup will leave Juventus – for the second time – at the end of the season.
Juventus took the lead in the 31st minute when Juan Quadrado counterattacked and Weston McKenna switched to Kulusevski to bend in the far corner.
Atalanta equalized 10 minutes later when Remo Froyler managed to win the ball in a duel with Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot and spread it to the right. He was then rubbed against Malinowski to smash him into the roof of the net.
Juventus almost regained their lead in an hour as Ronaldo’s shot released Chiesa, but his efforts came out on the right, with Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Golini defeated.
The Bianconeri scored the winner 12 minutes later when Kiesa played one or two with Kulusevski before breaking into the left side of the net up close.