ITALIAN CUP: Juve Thrash Milan To Claim Prize
JUVENTUS ran riot to beat blundering AC Milan yesterday in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico and lift the Italian Cup for a fourth consecutive year.
Juve are now poised to become the first Italian team to complete the league and cup double four years in a row after their 13th Italian Cup triumph.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side are one point away from claiming a seventh consecutive Serie A title with two games to play and could seal it this weekend against Roma in the same Stadio Olimpico stadium.
“It’s not that Juve have to win, but I’m now unfortunately used to the idea that people take our victories for granted,” said Allegri.
“Nothing is to be taken for granted.
“The lads had an extraordinary game and deserved this win. Now we have to ensure the Scudetto mathematically and enjoy this extraordinary season.”
The Turin giants put their foot on the gas after a balanced first half with Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan crumbling with two errors from young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and a Nikola Kalinic own goal gifting the cup to Juventus.
Mehdi Benatia opened the floodgates after 56 minutes for the first of a double on the night for the Moroccan with Douglas Costa also finding the net, before Kalinic’s blunder after 76 minutes.
AC Milan — sixth in Serie A — had been hoping for a win which would have guaranteed them a place in the Europa League group phase.
“I think it hurts more that we took 40,000 fans here and gave them a result like this,” said coach Gennaro Gattuso.
“Now we have two games against sides who are in better shape than us and must try to get into the Europa League with better performances than this.”
The match had been dubbed a duel between Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon who at 40 is set to retire and Donnarumma, 19, his touted replacement in the Italian national team.
While Buffon kept a clean sheet Donnarumma finished the night in tears after a game to forget.
Buffon made an early save from Patrick Cutrone minutes into the game with Costa and Paulo Dybala both testing Donnarumma.
But there was controversy before the break when Hakan Calhanoglu was brought down only for the referee to blow the whistle for the break without letting Milan take the free-kick.
Gattuso ran onto the pitch to calm his players.
But after the interval defender Benatia turned goalscorer heading in from a 56th-minute Miralem Pjanic corner — the first goal conceded by Milan in the Italian Cup this season.
Donnarumma then conceded two goals he should have saved — letting Costa slip through five minutes later and then failing to control a Mario Mandzukic header from a corner, allowing Benatia to tap in his second off the rebound.
Three goals down, Milan were in disarray and when Kalinic turned into his own net off a Pjanic corner it ended Milan’s hopes of a first major trophy since Allegri led them to the Serie A title in 2011.
“Juve always do something special, it’s not the first time. We have a winning mentality,” said Benatia, who had come in for criticism after letting in Kalidou Koulibaly’s goal in a 1-0 defeat to Napoli two weeks ago.
“After my error … everyone said I was useless. I felt bad for a few days, but fortunately the lads completed the job and I thank them for being close to me.”
The team now could celebrate the Serie A title at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
“The Scudetto is the main target and I’ll be glad if we do it here, because I had an extraordinary campaign at Roma and it’s a special stadium for me,” added the 31-year-old former Roma player Benatia. CREDIT: AFP