Gianluigi Buffon saved three penalties in the shoot-out, but it was not enough to prevent Juventus losing 8-7 on penalties to Napoli in the Italian Super Cup in Qatar.
The Italy goalkeeper presented his side with three chances to win the trophy, but three times Juventus could not convert. They were made to pay as Rafael Cabral made his second stop of an epic series of penalties from Simone Padoin to hand Napoli their second Super Cup to go with their triumph in 1990.
But Juventus and Buffon will be wondering how they managed to blow the prospect of a seventh success in the showpiece match.
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Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez bagged dramatic braces as the match finished 2-2 after extra-time.
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It went to sudden death shoot-outs with Walter Gargano and Leonardo Bonucci on target. Dries Mertens saw his beaten away by Buffon, but Giorgio Chiellini hit a very weak penalty into Rafael’s arms, so they had to continue.
Jose Callejon’s was parried by Buffon too, but again Juventus failed to take advantage with Roberto Pereyra ballooning over the bar.
Kalidou Koulibaly’s went in off the inside of the post and Simone Padoin was last up, his spot-kick well saved by Rafael to give Napoli the Italian Super Cup.
This Italian version of the Charity Shield is usually played in August, but was postponed to December in the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha due to international committments. Max Allegri had his first chance to win silverware on the Bianconeri bench and faced Coppa Italia holder Rafa Benitez. Napoli had taken part in the Super Cup only twice before, beating Juve 5-1 in 1990 and controversially losing 4-2 in extra time in 2012.
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Andrea Barzagli, Martin Caceres, Kwadwo Asamoah, Romulo, Michu, Lorenzo Insigne and Juan Camilo Zuniga missed out, but Dries Mertens and Jorginho were surprisingly dropped.
It took only five minutes to break through, as Raul Albiol and Kalidou Koulibaly collided when trying to clear a poor David Lopez back-header, allowing Tevez to go completely clear on goal and he kept his cool to beat Rafael one-on-one. It was an absolute howler from the error-prone Partenopei back four.
Marek Hamsik went very close to an equaliser when his snapshot from outside the box thumped the base of the upright. It took a deflection off Giorgio Chiellini’s calf to leave Gigi Buffon stranded.
Tevez almost netted a second, as Fernando Llorente knocked down an Andrea Pirlo cross on the edge of the area for his ferocious half-volley that stung Rafael’s gloves. Moments later the goalkeeper got down at full stretch to palm a Tevez daisy-cutter round the post.
Hamsik drilled wide and Gonzalo Higuain turned over after a fine spin between defenders, but Rafael also beat away a Stephan Lichtsteiner strike at the near stick. Jose Callejon was halted during a dangerous counter-attack for an incredibly tight offside decision. Higuain unleashed a curler from the outside edge of the area, forcing Buffon into a flying save.
Napoli should’ve equalised on 54 minutes when Callejon ran on to a through ball, but from an almost identical position to the Tevez goal he flashed the angled drive inches wide.
The Partenopei were remarkably unlucky to hit the frame of the goal for the second time. Higuain drew out Buffon and flicked a fantastic lob over the goalkeeper, but it clipped the inside of the far post and bounced back out.
Moments later Rafael had to be alert and parried with his legs from close range when Evra’s cross ricocheted off two Napoli players.
The deserved equaliser finally arrived when De Guzman whipped a cross in from the left for Higuain’s precise header, having peeled away from his marker. Arturo Vidal had given the ball away in midfield to spark that move.
Vidal horribly wasted a counter-attack and Tevez prodded wide when slipping over to reach a Llorente assist, so just like the last time these sides met in the 2012 Super Cup, it went to extra time.
Juve started more aggressive with Rafael capturing a Roberto Pereyra curler and Paul Pogba header, while Llorente turned to fire wide.
Vidal had a fantastic opportunity to score on Evra’s cross, but Koulibaly was ready for a decisive goalline clearance.
Immediately in the second half of extra time, Juventus restored their lead. Pogba set up Tevez, who skipped round Koulibaly with some fancy footwork to place a snooker shot into the near bottom corner giving Rafael no chance.
It still wasn’t over and Buffon stood tall for a fantastic one-handed save on Higuain’s half-volley, then the goalkeeper had to rush off his line and clear at Callejon’s feet following a Leonardo Bonucci error.
Just as the trophy seemed to be going to Juventus, Napoli got it back on level terms with Higuain. A cross fell kindly for him and Pipita reacted quicker than anyone else to turn in from eight yards. That equaliser forced penalties in Doha.
Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner (Padoin 79), Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Pirlo (Pereyra 66), Marchisio, Pogba; Vidal; Tevez, Llorente (Morata 106)
Napoli: Rafael; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Gargano, David Lopez (Inler 91); De Guzman (Jorginho 106), Hamsik (Mertens 79), Callejon; Higuain
Ref: Valeri
Read the original article on Football Italia - The ultimate website for English-speaking fans of Italian football
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