Thursday, April 12

‘He’s a murderer’ - Juventus goalkeeper, buffon slams referee after champions league exit

Legendary goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon launched an extraordinary attack on referee Michael Oliver, labelling him a ‘murderer’ and accusing him of having ‘no heart in his chest’ after Juventus were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid.

Buffon was left furious after Juve clawed back a three-goal first-leg deficit at the Bernabeu, only for Oliver to award the hosts a penalty in the 93rd minute for Mehdi Benatia’s challenge on Lucas Vazquez.

The veteran goalkeeper fumed at Oliver after the decision and was sent off for his aggressive reaction, which saw him scream and point his hand in the English official’s face.

Cristiano Ronaldo converted the spot-kick after Buffon had departed the pitch, sending Real Madrid into the semi-finals with a 4-3 aggregate win and ending the Italy legend’s hopes of winning the Champions League for the first time in his illustrious career.

Buffon was still seething after the final whistle, as he blasted Oliver and his decisions during a passionate post-match interview.

‘It was a tenth of a penalty,’ Buffon, who was playing in his last-ever Champions League game, told Mediaset. ‘I know the referee saw, it was certainly a dubious incident.

‘And a dubious incident at the 93rd minute when we had a clear penalty denied [for a challenge on Juan Cuadrado] in the first leg, you cannot award that at this point.

‘The team gave their all, but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation.

‘Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a bin. On top of that, if you don’t have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, drinking your Sprite and eating crisps. You cannot ruin the dreams of a team.’

‘You have to be a murderer to make the last two decisions the referee made,’ Buffon added later, on a Spanish radio station.

Buffon conceded that Madrid were worthy winners but said he was proud of his team for coming close to advancing despite entering the second leg 3-0 down.

‘Real Madrid deserved to go through over the two legs,’ Buffon said. ‘I wish them the best and it has always been an honour for me to face this club, but objectively we at least deserved to go to extra time.’

‘We started out knowing full well we had 0.0000005 per cent chance of doing it. But I am so truly proud to be part of a team that would play like this, work so hard and give everything. I am proud to be with this group of men. Naturally, there is regret and, well, anger.’

Gary Lineker came to the defence of Buffon on BT Sport’s coverage of the match, questioning whether it was necessary for Oliver to send the 40-year-old off in what turned out to be his final match in the competition.

‘I thank Lineker for what he wrote, but as I said, it’s an issue of sensitivity,’ Buffon responded. ‘It means you don’t know where you are, what teams are facing off, what players are involved. It means you’ve understood absolutely **** all. ‘It disappointed me to leave the boys with 10 men, but I said objectively Real Madrid deserved the victory, we shake their hands and move on. We will be furious when stepping on to the pitch in Serie A this weekend. Furious.’

Benatia maintained his innocence in the penalty incident, insisting that he did not push Vazquez and claiming the Madrid winger went down out of desperation.

‘I can promise you, I did not push him. He went down because he had nothing else to do at that point,’ Benatia said.  ‘Giving a penalty like that at the 93rd minute is simply absurd. Bayern Munich had the exact same thing last year. What can you do?’

Buffon has never won the Champions League during his 23-year career, despite reaching the final three times with Juventus in 2017, 2015 and 2005.

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