Football

Buffon: Real showed their class

Juve skipper rues poor second-half display after blowing possibly his last chance to win Champions League

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was crestfallen after seeing his Champions League dream snatched away yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Defeated in the 2003 and 2015 finals, the 39-year-old admitted in the build-up to the Cardiff showdown he could not let slip this chance to finally get hold of the only major trophy to elude him.

Buffon celebrated wildly when Mario Mandzukic superbly cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo's opener in a thrilling first half against Real Madrid.

However, the veteran was left heartbroken as the Portuguese grabbed his second in between Casemiro and Marco Asensio's goals, as Zinedine Zidane's side wrapped up a 4-1 win to become the first team to retain the title under the current Champions League format.

Juve also had substitute Juan Cuadrado dismissed six minutes from time, when the score was 3-1, for picking up two yellow cards.

The Italian club's fifth successive Champions League final defeat may have ended Buffon's hopes of winning the competition.

He said: "We are disappointed. We played very well in the first half, we thought we had enough to win the game.

"I cannot explain why we played like we did in the second half. Real deserved to win in the second half. They showed their class and the attitude needed to play in this kind of game."

CHAMPS LEAGUE VOODOO

The Juve skipper also conceded that he had missed a glorious chance to break his Champions League voodoo.

"I still have one more year on my contract, so that means I have one more chance of winning the Champions League," Buffon told Sky Sport Italia.

"Admittedly, it'll be tough to do better than this year, because we could've done something truly incredible this season.

"Unfortunately, we didn't manage it."

Juve had conceded only three goals en route to Wales, only for their miserly defence to be ruthlessly exposed by the Spanish La Liga champions.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri said: "I don't think Juventus have reached the end of a cycle at all. Buffon and (Andrea) Barzagli will still be with us next year, and they still have a lot to give us.

"Clearly we need to improve the team to achieve a higher level of technical skill but, after the holidays, we'll go back to work with a new stimulus.

"Football gives you the chance to go again next year."

Analysing the match, the Juve coach said that they stood powerless against Real's sizzling attack after the break.

His team were superior to Real in the first 45 minutes, but missed several excellent goal-scoring chances and went into half-time level with Real at 1-1.

He said: "In the first half we played beautifully, but they pushed the accelerator in the second half and we could not resist. The two goals in quick succession hurt us and we were not able to react.

ONLY CRITICISM

"The only criticism I could make is that, after the second goal, we should have stayed in the game mentally to make sure we still had chances."

Allegri also suggested that the outcome would have been different had his side made their first-half dominance count.

He said: "I had to take some risks tonight.

"We had to try to score a goal, get ahead and then defend in the second part of the game. But we were not able to do that.

"With a bit more luck, we could have finished the first half in the lead and then it would have been a different match." - WIRE SERVICES

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