Wed, Dec 24, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Napoli steal Supercoppa from Juve in shootout

’KEEPER CLASH:Juventus’ Buffon stopped three spot-kicks, but two missed tries from his teammates and a last-gasp save by Napoli’s Rafael won it for the Azzurri


Juventus goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon dives to try and save a penalty attempt by SSC Napoli in the Italian Supercoppa at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in the Qatari capital of Doha on Monday.

Photo: AFP

SSC Napoli beat Juventus 6-5 on penalties to win the Italian Supercoppa on Monday and deny Massimiliano Allegri a first trophy in charge of the Bianconeri.

Rafael saved Simone Padoin’s final penalty after Kalidou Koulibaly had converted to win the match for Napoli, despite Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saving three spot-kicks.

The match ended 2-2 after extra-time, with Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain twice canceling out strikes from Argentine compatriot Carlos Tevez.

“Everyone should be happy, beating such a strong team like Juve is wonderful,” Napoli coach Rafa Benitez said. “I am happy for Rafael, I am happy for Higuain, I am happy for everyone who believed in us... It’s my 12th trophy, my 10th cup, but what matters is that we won this for Naples and our supporters.”

It was end-to-end action at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, much to the delight of the sellout crowd of 14,000 fans, who loudly cheered every Juventus attack.

“It was a good game,” Allegri said. “We didn’t manage to win on penalties despite three match points. I’m disappointed, we played well apart from at the start of the second half.”

The traditional season opener between the Serie A champions and the Coppa Italia winners had been rescheduled because of international commitments. The victory was a revenge for the Azzurri, who lost to Juve in the same competition two years ago.

Juventus, who jointly hold the record number of Supercoppa victories, were looking to move clear of AC Milan with a seventh win and got off to the perfect start after a defensive howler from Napoli.

Raul Albiol and Kalidou Koulibaly collided when trying to clear David Lopez’s poor back-header, allowing Tevez to race clear and beat Rafael one-on-one with barely four minutes on the clock.

Marek Hamsik went close to an equalizer when his effort took a deflection off Giorgio Chiellini to leave Gianluigi Buffon stranded, but the ball hit the right post.

Tevez almost doubled his tally, but was denied twice by good saves from Rafael after more poor defending by Napoli.

Napoli recovered and Higuain could have sent his side in at halftime level only to be thwarted by a fine diving save from Buffon.

The equalizer finally came in the 68th minute when Jonathan de Guzman raced down the left flank and whipped in a cross for Higuain’s precise header.

Juventus restored their lead moments into the second half of extra-time as Paul Pogba set up Tevez, who dummied to carve out some space on the edge of the area before drilling low into the left corner.

Buffon pulled off a great reaction save to deny Higuain, but could not prevent the Argentine from leveling two minutes from time.

In the shootout, the Italy goalkeeper saved spot-kicks from Jorginho, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon, but Tevez sent his crashing off the post and Roberto Pereyra blasted off target, while Rafael denied Giorgio Chiellini and Padoin.

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