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Buffon makes error in Juventus' costly draw

Buffon makes error in Juventus' costly draw

Gianluigi Buffon gave 10-man Lecce a late equalizer as Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw.

Rome: An unlikely error from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon gave 10-man Lecce a late equalizer as Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday that cut their lead over AC Milan to one point with two Serie A rounds remaining.

In the 85th minute at Juventus stadium, Buffon failed to clear the ball and Andrea Bertolacci took advantage to score a shock goal. Claudio Marchisio scored eight minutes in for Juventus, heading in a pass from Andrea Pirlo, while Lecce forward Juan Cuadrado was sent off with his second yellow card in the 55th.

Buffon was lining up a clearance but didn't notice the onrushing Bertolacci, who stripped the ball, dribbled around the goalkeeper and scored into an empty net. Realizing his error, Buffon — a standout during Italy's 2006 World Cup victory — then stuck his hand up to apologize to team-mates and fans.

"That's football," Juventus manager Antonio Conte said. "It's crazy what happened tonight. But we have to have the strength to remain calm and move on."

Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 from an early goal by Sulley Muntari and a late strike from Robinho.

Still, undefeated Juventus hold the tiebreaker over Milan with a better head-to-head record and still control their own destiny. Milan face Inter in a derby on Sunday, while Juventus visit lowly Cagliari.

"Five minutes from the end, the title seemed out of reach," Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri said. "Then Lecce scored and in the final minutes it seemed like we were at theater awaiting the end of an opera. ... Now we're going to be motivated for the derby. The league is still in Juve's hands, but making it go down to the final round isn't bad."

In the final round of matches May 13, Juventus hosts Atalanta and Milan faces Novara, which was relegated on Wednesday with a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina.

The match in Florence drew attention when Fiorentina manager Delio Rossi physically attacked Adem Ljajic after the forward protested his first-half substitution. The incident occurred shortly after the half-hour mark, after Fiorentina had fallen 2-0 behind. Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo scored twice for Fiorentina in the second half.

Elsewhere, Udinese beat already relegated Cesena 1-0 with a fourth-minute goal from Diego Fabrini to draw level with Napoli for third place and the final Champions League berth — although Napoli hold the tiebreaker.

Lazio was held to a 1-1 draw at home by Siena to drop two points behind Napoli and Udinese, and Inter Milan squandered a lead in a 3-1 loss at Parma to fall three points behind in the race for the Champions League.

Wesley Sneijder put Inter in front in the 13th, but Parma struck back with second-half goals from Fernando Marques, Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Biabiany.

Also, Genoa beat Cagliari 2-1 in Brescia, where it was forced to play during a two-match home fan ban; and Bologna defeated Catania 1-0 with a 79th-minute goal from Gaston Ramirez.
first published:May 03, 2012, 09:21 IST