28.02.2018 19:35 - in: Match report S

    Juve reach Rome again!

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    Miralem Pjanic’s 75th-minute penalty seals a spot in the Bianconeri’s fourth straight Coppa Italia final

    Juventus will be competing in this year’s Coppa Italia final – their fourth in as many seasons – after overcoming a spirited Atalanta side on Wednesday evening at Allianz Stadium.

    Miralem Pjanic’s penalty in the 75th minute sealed a 1-0 win on the night and a 2-0 aggregate scoreline, meaning that the Bianconeri reached a record 18th final in the competition.

    Looking to overturn their 1-0 first-leg defeat, Atalanta came out of the traps brightly with Alejandro Gomez firing over the crossbar and the Argentine forward called Gianluigi Buffon into action when latching on to Josip Ilicic’s deflected cross.

    Juve responded with pressure of their own from the midway point in the half, with Douglas Costa at the centre of most of the Bianconeri’s best moves. The Brazilian regularly beat his markers for pace and was a constant menace for the Nerazzurri backline, his powerful cross-shot from the right forcing Etrit Berisha into a smart save just prior to the interval.

    Prior to that, in the 35th minute, Mario Mandzukic had possibly enjoyed the hosts’ best chance of the half, bearing down on goal and getting a shot away from close range, but Berisha was equal to it.

    Zero-zero at the break, the Bianconeri began the second period in search of a goal that would double their aggregate advantage: Berisha had to come to his team’s aid once again to block Claudio Marchisio’s effort from within the area.

    Shortly after that, Il Principino very nearly brought the house down with a fine, curled effort that flew just inches past the top corner.

    Then, in a whirlwind three minutes of action, both teams struck the woodwork. First, Gomez thought he had scored when put through one on one with Buffon and lobbed Juve’s captain, only for the ball to bounce dramatically off the outside of the post.

    Then, on 67 minutes, Costa replied by rattling the crossbar with a crisp shot from outside the box.

    With a quarter of an hour remaining, however, Juve finally found the breakthrough from the penalty spot: after Blaise Matuidi had been fouled inside the area, Pjanic kept his cool to slot past Berisha and all but end the tie.

    Juve will find out whether they face Lazio or Milan in just a few hours after the second leg of their semi-final is played later tonight at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, which is exactly where the Bianconeri will be playing their next Serie A match this Saturday against Lazio (18.00 CET kick-off).

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