Juventus edge Atalanta 2-1 to win Coppa Italia
Sports Desk, May 19 (EFE).- Juventus bested Atalanta 2-1 Wednesday to claim the Coppa Italia for a record-extending 14th time.
The final in the northern city of Reggio Emilia was Italy’s first soccer game since last October with spectators and 4,300 people were in the stands at Mapei Stadium.
The man of the match for the Bianconeri was Sweden international Dejan Kulusevski, who scored a goal and assisted on Federico Chiesa’s game winner.
And though he did not figure in the scoring, it was also a special night for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now won every national competition in England (with Manchester United), Spain (Real Madrid) and Italy (Juventus).
Juventus and Italian national team legend Andrea Pirlo picked up the second trophy – after the domestic Super Cup – of his uneven first season as coach in Turin.
Under Pirlo, Juve have seen their string of consecutive Serie A titles ended at nine by a resurgent Inter Milan and they currently sit just outside the Champions League places with one game to play.
Atalanta began aggressively, threatening Gigi Buffon’s goal twice inside the opening five minutes. The 43-year-old keeper had to make a save against Jose Luis Palomino, while Duvan Zapata hit the post.
But the score was still 0-0 as the match passed the half-hour mark when a Juventus counter culiminated in Kulusevski’s goal.
Ronaldo was bearing down on goal when defender Cristian Romero made a successful challenge, but the ball ended up with Kulusevksi via Weston McKennie and the Swede beat keeper Pierluigi Gollini.
Undaunted Atalanta battled on and got their reward in the 41st minute with Ruslan Malinovskiy’s equalizer. The Russian blasted the ball past the Juve defense and Buffon to post his sixth goal in eight matches.
Gollini did well to thwart Kulusevski in the 58th minute, two minutes before Chiesa would hit the post with a shot set up by a deft back-heel pass from Ronaldo, who soon afterward forced a stop from the Atalanta keeper with a powerful header.
In the 73rd minute, as Paulo Dybala stood on the touch line waiting to replace him, Chiesa made it 2-1 for Juventus after working a give-and-go with Kulusevki.
Atalanta lost their composure as they pressed desperately for an equalizer, resulting in several yellow cards and a straight red for the already substituted Rafael Toloi after he hectored the referee from the bench.
With the Coppa in the trophy case, Pirlo and his men will focus on winning the season finale against Bologna and praying that either AC Milan or Napoli falter to clear a path to the top four. EFE