Sunday, June 16, 2024

Dusan Vlahovic Fires Juventus To 15th Italian Cup Past Long-Suffering Atalanta

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Dusan Vlahovic shot Juventus to the Italian Cup with the only goal in Wednesday’s final against Atalanta who were denied a first trophy in six decades. Serbia striker Vlahovic’s fourth-minute strike was enough for Juve to claim the cup for the 15th time in a largely uninspiring final in Rome. Massimiliano Allegri’s side had won just three matches since the end of January coming into the final but frustrated Atalanta from the moment Vlahovic, who also had a goal disallowed for offside in the second half, netted the only goal of the game.

Wednesday’s win ended a three-year trophy drought for Juventus, Italy’s most successful and widely-supported club who have been overshadowed by the Milan clubs and Napoli in recent seasons.

Poor performances this season have led to speculation that Allegri, who was sent off late on, will be sacked in the summer, and he hinted that his second spell as Juve coach is set to come to an end.

“If I’m gone next season, because I’ve already been sacked in the media, we’re in the Champions League and have won a trophy,” said Allegri to Mediaset.

“We’ve done everything we were supposed to do, get into the Champions League and reach a final, the boys did really well to win it.”

Atalanta were fancied to win their first major honour since winning the cup in 1963 after a fabulous season for the traditionally provincial club.

However Gian Piero Gasperini’s team couldn’t find a way through a brilliantly organised Juventus defence which stopped attack-minded Atalanta from having a single shot on target.

The closest Atalanta came to levelling was when Ademola Lookman thumped a shot off the base of the post with 10 minutes remaining.

Atalanta now turn their attentions to sealing Champions League football through Serie A and next week’s Europa League final.

The Bergamo club, who are fifth in Italy’s top flight, face Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin in their first ever European final.

“We were up against a good team who went in front straight way and defended very well. I don’t think we played badly… they didn’t do any more than we did,” said Gasperini.

Allegri sent-off

With fans expecting the Atalanta show Vlahovic put himself forward as chief party pooper when he rushed through to collect Andrea Cambiaso’s pass and smash home his 18th goal of the season.

Vlahovic has been profligate at times this season but his emphatic finish allowed Allegri to play the game he loves best, packing the defence and rebuffing Atalanta’s attacks.

Very little happened in the first half after he scored, largely thanks to Juve’s insistence that nothing happen.

Ademola Lookman went close with a deflected shot five minutes after the break but it was Vlahovic who went close to doubling Juve’s lead in the 65th minute.

The 24-year-old was fed by Federico Chiesa and then skipped past two defenders before his close-range finish was stopped by a combination of Marten de Roon and goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi.

Vlahovic then thought he had made sure of the cup for Juve with 17 minutes remaining, again meeting a Cambiaso ball to glance in a perfect header, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.

Lookman then thwacked his effort off the woodwork and soon after Juve midfielder Fabio Miretti rattled the crossbar in one of the game’s few moments of genuine drama.

The match finished with under-pressure Allegri sent off after the coach completely lost his head with referee Fabio Maresca when a foul on Danilo wasn’t immediately given in the area as Atalanta pushed for an equaliser.

Allegri was enraged to the point that he threw his jacket and tie to the floor before ranting at officials pitchside, as Juve directors tried to pull him away, before he returned fully dressed to celebrate cup glory.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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