Raging Buffon’s crazy Champions League exit


Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Gianluigi Buffon raged late into the night after a wild match in Madrid as the Juventus legend was sent off in what was probably the final Champions League match of an extraordinary career.

The veteran goalkeeper’s frustration spilled over at the Santiago Bernabeu after Juventus beat Real Madrid 3-1 on the night, but were eliminated 4-3 on aggregate in the quarter-final after English referee Michael Oliver awarded the Spaniards a hotly contested 97th-minute penalty.

“In place of a heart he has a rubbish bin,” raged 40-year-old Buffon after Oliver pointed to the spot after Mehdi Benatia’s challenge on Lucas Vazquez in the dying minutes.

Buffon was given his first ever red card in 117 Champions League games and after Wojciech Szczesny had taken his place in the Juventus goal, Cristiano Ronaldo coolly slotted home the spot kick to put defending champions Real Madrid through to the semi-finals.

“You have to be a murderer to make the last two decisions the referee made,” Buffon, the Juve captain, said later.

“You cannot ruin the dreams of a team. I could’ve told the referee anything at that moment, but he had to understand the degree of the disaster he was creating,” he continued.

“If you can’t handle the pressure and have the courage to make a decision, then you should just sit in the stands and eat your crisps.”

It was another blow for the charismatic 2006 World Cup winner who was reduced to tears after Italy dramatically failed to qualify for the global showpiece in playoffs in November.

“He didn’t deserve all that, but we can’t change it,” said Real Madrid coach Zinédine Zidane whose international career ended with a red card after his infamous headbutt during the 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy in Berlin.

Juventus have been beaten finalists in the Champions League twice in the past three years and Wednesday’s defeat was probably Buffon’s last chance to continue his bid for the only major title missing from his collection.

“I’m not here to judge what the referee saw, because it was a borderline incident,” he said, continuing his diatribe. 

“All I’ll say is that you can’t be that cynical in the 93rd minute, to shatter the dreams of a team that had given everything it had to give.

“I’ve always found it an honour to go up against this team and this club in front of this crowd, but tonight we deserved extra time at the very least.”

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