Buf­fon gaffe costs Ju­ven­tus top spot

The Citizen (KZN) - - Internatio­nal - Mi­lan

Ju­ven­tus coach Mau­r­izio Sarri re­fused to blame vet­eran goal­keeper Gian­luigi Buf­fon’s blun­der as the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons were held to a 2-2 home draw by lowly Sas­suolo on Sun­day that cost them top spot in Serie A.

The 41-year-old Buf­fon is clos­ing in on Paolo Mal­dini’s record for Serie A ap­pear­ances in what is likely to be his fi­nal sea­son.

Ri­vals In­ter Mi­lan took full ad­van­tage of Ju­ven­tus’ slip, tak­ing pole po­si­tion with a 2-1 win over SPAL as the cham­pi­ons slipped to sec­ond, one point be­hind, af­ter drop­ping their first points at home this sea­son.

Buf­fon started in place of Pol­ish goal­keeper Wo­j­ciech Szczesny.

It was Buf­fon’s 645th Serie A ap­pear­ance but only his fifth of the sea­son, putting him two short of Mal­dini’s record of 647 games.

How­ever, it was not a mem­o­rable af­ter­noon with Jeremie Boga pulling Sas­suolo level at 1-1 af­ter chip­ping the ball over an on­rush­ing Buf­fon.

The goal­keeper then fum­bled in Francesco Ca­puto’s goal for 2-1 af­ter a mix-up in the Ju­ven­tus de­fence af­ter the break be­fore Cris­tiano Ron­aldo res­cued a point with a 68th-minute penalty.

Sarri said the team shared the blame and not just Buf­fon.

“Gigi? We fo­cus on his ‘blun­der’, but ev­ery­thing starts in the build-up, the chain of er­rors is quite ob­vi­ous,” said the for­mer Chelsea and Napoli boss.

“It was an in­cred­i­ble se­ries of mis­takes, from a bad back-pass to an­other that hit a Sas­suolo player.

“When you aren’t fully fo­cused, a blun­der can hap­pen. As I said, we didn’t use our heads, cer­tain episodes are ex­plained like this.

“Up front we had 27 shots and two goals... be­hind we had three slip-ups in the same ac­tion, which lead to Sas­suolo go­ing 2-1.

“No one is im­mune from re­spon­si­bil­ity. Cris­tiano Ron­aldo? I saw him more alive in the 30 fi­nal min­utes than in the ini­tial phase.”

Buf­fon re­turned to Ju­ven­tus this sea­son af­ter a sea­son with Paris Saint-Ger­main as he pushes to close in on the record for Serie A ap­pear­ances.

His con­tract with Ju­ven­tus is re­ported to in­clude a spe­cial clause, whereby Sarri will have to play him in at least eight league games.

This is the num­ber that he needs to over­come Mal­dini’s ex­ist­ing record. –

Pic­ture: AFP

GIAN­LUIGI BUF­FON

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