Conor Clancy Date: 30th January 2018 at 10:44pm
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Gonzalo Higuain’s early strike was the difference as Juventus claimed a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie with Atalanta.

Despite a bright start for the Bianconeri, things got cagey into the second half as their hosts desperately pressed for an equalising goal but Massimiliano Allegri’s men stood firm and largely limited the Bergamaschi to no more than half-chances.

Juventus started brightly and flew out of the traps and it was not long before they took the lead through Higuain.

Capitalising on a Jose Palomino error, the Argentine picked the ball up 30-yards from goal and drove through the fog at speed. Andrea Masiello came across to intervene, but El Pipita shifted the ball onto his right foot, wrong-footing the Italian and sent Etrit Berisha to ground before slotting into the far corner.

Bryan Cristante had a tame effort for the hosts as he got on the end of Hans Hateboer’s cross, but his header was easily gathered by the returning Gianluigi Buffon.

Masiello did make a crucial block with a quarter of an hour on the clock. Blaise Matuidi was found on the edge of the box by Miralem Pjanic and turned well but as he looked to get his shot off, the experienced defender shut him down and blocked well.

Halfway through the first half, Atalanta called for a penalty. Marten de Roon looked to Andreas Cornelius in the box who missed his touch and the ball then hit the hand of Medhi Benatia. Nothing was given but after consulting VAR a penalty was awarded.

Alejandro Gomez stepped up, but Buffon was equal to his efforts and Juventus’ lead remained intact.

Higuain then came close to making it two. Mattia De Sciglio cut the ball back across the box and the No.9 met it well, but his effort was just too high to find the top corner. Matuidi did similarly before long, much to the frustration of Mario Mandzukic.

The Frenchman had another chance moments later, but Rafael Toloi put his body on the line and blocked behind for a corner which was defended well.

Gian Piero Gasperini looked to change things at the break and Josip Ilicic was brought on for Cornelius, with La Dea then changing shape and not playing with a traditional centre-forward.

Gomez found some space on a couple of occasions as Juve’s backline looked to come to terms with the tactical shift, but Buffon was equal to both efforts.

Juventus did not start the second half in the same fashion as the first, and the hosts looked to break up play whenever possible while Juve themselves looked happy for the tempo to be taken out of the game.

Preserving the lead became the visitors’ priority and they set up camp in their own half, relying on Higuain to carry the weight of their attacking duties.

Ilicic tried his luck but his scrappy effort deflected off Gomez and into Buffon’s hands.

With time running out, Allegri introduced Andrea Barzagli to help see the game through.

Buffon again showed his eternal brilliance in the dying moments as he was quick off his line to deny a big opportunity for Toloi, which then turned to a scramble in the box that was eventually cleared.


  • Juventus have found the net in all their last nine Coppa Italia matches (18 goals).
  • Juventus have won all their last four Coppa Italia games, without conceding goal.
  • Juventus have conceded only one goal in their last 14 games played (all comps).
  • Juventus have won their first Coppa Italia game away from home against Atalanta (D5, L3 in the previous 8).
  • Buffon saved his 20th career penalties for club, the first in Coppa Italia (ex. extra time and penalties shoot-out).
  • Higuain has scored 5 goals in seven Coppa Italia matches for Juventus, only 3 in his previous 11 for Napoli.
  • Higuain has scored the first Coppa Italia goal away from Juventus Stadium or San Paolo (2 at San Paolo for Juventus).
  • Juventus have faced 5 penalties in the 2017/18 season (all comps), 3 more than they faced in all the 2016/17 season (2 all comps).
  • Gonzalo Higuain has scored the fastest goal (after 2′ 29”) for Juventus in the 2017/18 season (all comps).
  • Juventus have fired only one shot on target tonight, less than in any other 2017/18 match (all comps).