AC Milan’s players celebrate winning against Juventus during the Italian Super Cup final match between AC Milan and Juventus in Doha yesterday at the Al Sadd stadium.
For the second time in three years, Juventus players leave Doha heartbroken after suffering yet another loss in the penalty shootout. This time, despite the heroics of skipper Buffon, AC Milan pip them to the post and win the Italian Super Cup
For the second time in three years, Juventus players left Doha heartbroken. The Serie A champions of last five years have somehow failed to find lady luck smiling in their favour in the Qatar capital.
At the Al Sadd Stadium last night, 2014 came back to haunt Juventus as they lost the Italian Super Cup — on penalties once again. Back then, the Juventus were pipped to the post by Napoli, this time AC Milan had the last laugh against the Old Lady of Turin.
Truth be told, Milan were the better team on the night and deserving winners. The San Siro side had numerous chances to score the winner during the regulation time and then in extra time too, but were undone by Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s mastery.Buffon, playing in his 600th match for Juve, however, was helpless when Mario Pasalic sent him the wrong way to seal a pulsating clash 4-3 (1-1 in regulation time) in Milan’s favour. It was another Gianluigi, though, who was the hero last night. The 17-year-old Milan goalkeeper Donnarumma, who shares his first name with Buffon, showed the composure of a veteran when he flung to his left to save Paulo Dybala’s kick one-handed, which proved decisive in the shoot-out.
Giacomo Bonaventura had cancelled out a Giorgio Chiellini’s opener as both teams were locked in 1-1 at full time. This Italian Super Cup triumph was Milan’s first piece of silverware, since Rossoneri’s won the same trophy in 2011. Back then Massimiliano Allegri was in charge of Milan, but he was in the opposite camp this time, as current Milan coach Vincenzo Montella savoured his first trophy. Milan also equalled Juventus record of seven Italian Super Cup trophies.
“It’s a nice feeling to win. The lads have to see this as a good starting point for the future, as we played on a par with a great side like Juventus,” said a delighted Montella.
“We did everything to avoid penalties. We have lost twice in Doha and hopefully the third one will go better. I have to compliment Milan, as they put in a strong performance,” Juventus coach Allegri said.
This is traditionally a clash between the Scudetto winners and Coppa Italia holders, but as Juve had won both those trophies in 2016, their opponents were Milan, the beaten Coppa finalists.
Milan started the game on nervous note as Juventus were all over them in the first 15 minutes. Montella’s men, who had beaten Juventus in the league game as recently as October, started out playing too deep. And Juventus took advantage of that.
The Turin side almost went ahead after seven minutes, but Mario Mandzukic’s fierce shot was blocked by Donnarumma. The Milan goalkeeper was once again called into action on Stefano Sturaro’s strike, but on the resulting corner Giorgio Chiellini volleyed in with his shin-pad to give Juventus the lead in the 18th minute.
That goal woke up Milan from their slumber, as they started to play a high pressing game from then on. Milan’s best player on the night, Fernadez Suso went close to scoring the equaliser, but shot wide. Juventus then received a setback when the impressive winger Alex Sandro limped off with a muscular problem and was replaced by Patrice Evra.
The equaliser came in the 39th minute for Milan when Suso whipped in a cross from the right and Bonaventura ducked slightly to steer his glancing header into the far top corner.
Juventus were lucky not to be a man less after Stephan Lichtsteiner escaped being sent off. The Swiss defender, who was already on a yellow, elbowed Bonaventura but referee Antonio Damato failed to spot that.
In the second half, Milan began from where they had left in the first half. They had more possession and looked the most likely to take the lead.
But Chiellini deflected a Suso effort and on the corner Alessio Romagnoli’s header looped onto the crossbar. For Juventus, their 90mn Euro signing Gonzalo Higuain was off-colour on the big occasion. Though he came close a couple of times, but was unable to get past Donnarumma.
Sami Khedira had a couple of chances, but Donnarumma was in the act again, flying to his left to stop a screamer from the German midfielder. Carlos Bacca had the opportunity to seal it for Milan but could not tap in a Juraj Kucka’s cross. Bacca’s heart must have been in his mouth, when Dybala, who replaced Miralem Pjanic in the 67th minute, had an golden opportunity to become Juventus’ hero . But the Argentine striker inexplicably missed his target.
In extra time, Buffon was at his best as he kept out a Bacca header, which bounced off the ground but was heading into the net.
Juventus picked up their intensity and thought they had done the job when Evra found the net in the 111 minutes. But the Frenchman was clearly offside. Evra was in action when he found an unmarked Dybala in the box with three minutes left on the clock. Dybala, however, once again ballooned over the bar from 12 yards. There was drama in the end when Juventus appealed for a handball on Milan defender Mattia De Sciglio’s arm, which was the last touch of the match. But the referee would have none of it.
In penalties, it was advantage Juventus when Buffon saved a soft kick from Gianluca Lapadula. But Mario Mandzukic hit the bar and parity was restored. With Milan converting the next three, Dybala was under pressure to score. And the Argentine messed up again, as Donnarumma produced a sensational one-handed save. Pasalic still had to score and he kept his cool to convert and trigger emphatic scenes among his Milan teammates. “I cannot describe what I’m feeling and I don’t even know what was going through my head! We knew that we had to give it our all, we played on level terms with Juventus,” said the young Donnarumma as he joined his teammates for a long night of celebration.