Champions League

Buffon hails Madrid class after final heartbreak

2017-06-04 14:32
Gianluigi Buffon (Getty Images)

Cardiff - Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon magnanimously conceded Real Madrid's superior ability had made the difference after his side crashed to a 4-1 defeat in Saturday's Champions League final in Cardiff.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Madrid overwhelmed Juventus at the Principality Stadium to become the first team to retain the European Cup since AC Milan in 1990.

Italy great Buffon, 39, has now lost in three Champions League finals, after previous disappointments in 2003 and 2015, while Juve have lost in their last five European Cup finals, taking their tally of runner-up finishes to seven.

"We are disappointed," goalkeeper Buffon said in comments published on the website of European governing body UEFA.

"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 Madrid deserved to win in the second half. They showed their class and the attitude needed to play in this kind of game."

Ronaldo's 20th-minute opener was cancelled out by a stupendous Mario Mandzukic goal, the Croatian chesting down Gonzalo Higuain's volleyed lay-off and arcing a sublime volley over Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

But Casemiro restored Madrid's lead just beyond the hour and further strikes from Ronaldo and substitute Marco Asensio sealed victory for Zinedine Zidane's side, European champions in three of the last four seasons.

"In the first half we played beautifully. In the second half we were too static," beaten manager Massimiliano Allegri told his post-match press conference.

"We managed to defend for 15 minutes. As you know, football can be a nightmare. (Miralem) Pjanic's shot was deflected wide, Casemiro's shot was deflected into the goal.

"We knew we were playing a really strong team. In the run-up to the final, it sounded like Juventus were favourites and were playing a team who'd reached the final by chance.

"The truth is that Real Madrid have many important players. If somebody wins the Ballon d'Or and scores so many goals, obviously it's a big advantage.

"The only criticism I could make is that after conceding the second goal, we should have stayed in the game."

Juve had been bidding to complete a Treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League successes and Allegri said they could still reflect on their season with pride.

"Let me congratulate my boys for what they've done this season," said Allegri, whose side were beaten 3-1 by Barcelona in the 2015 final in Berlin.

"It's been an extraordinary season. We won Serie A and the Coppa Italia and reached the Champions League final. I have to thank them. It's important to reach finals. Unluckily, we didn't win it."

Allegri also spared a thought for the around 200 people who were injured when a bomb scare triggered panic among Juve fans watching the game on a big screen in the centre of Turin.

"We feel for what happened to the fans in Turin," he said.

"We hope not too many people were injured and we hope they get better soon."

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