Juventus beat Atalanta with a very debatable penalty, after both sides rattled the woodwork, to reach their fourth consecutive Coppa Italia Final.
The first leg ended 1-0 in Bergamo thanks to an early Gonzalo Higuain goal and Gigi Buffon parrying the Papu Gomez penalty, but Gian Piero Gasperini was determined to turn this around and used his best available XI, missing only injured Andrea Petagna and suspended Rafael Toloi. Juve couldn’t count on Gonzalo Higuain, Federico Bernardeschi, Juan Cuadrado, Mattia De Sciglio and banned Rodrigo Bentancur, while Paulo Dybala was not fit to start after a muscular issue.
These sides were meant to meet on Sunday in Serie A, but that fixture was snowed off and rescheduled for March 14. It was still snowing today, but with much less intensity.
It was all Atalanta in the opening stages, as Gomez curled over and Remo Freuler had a shot charged down, then the captain at full stretch couldn’t quite trouble Buffon on a Josip Ilicic ball over the top.
Juve’s first real chance came on 16 minutes, as Blaise Matuidi couldn’t get on the end of a Miralem Pjanic free kick at the back post.
Giorgio Chiellini was expected to be on the bench, but instead he started and was booked for a foul on Mattia Caldara, meaning he’d be suspended if Juve reached the Final.
The referee waved away penalty appeals, as Mario Mandzukic seemed to flick the ball on to Andrea Masiello’s hand from point-blank range.
Mandzukic in his old centre-forward role went on a slalom through the Atalanta defence, only to be denied by Etrit Berisha one-on-one.
Berisha was shaky, but effective, in pushing away a dipping Douglas Costa cross, while at the other end Ilicic rolled across for Freuler, the shot charged down by Chiellini in the box.
Kwadwo Asamoah hit the side-netting with a fierce drive, but Pjanic was booked on the stroke of half-time for a truly pitiful dive.
After the restart, Claudio Marchisio stung Berisha’s gloves at the near post from a Mandzukic assist and the midfielder also curled over the bar.
Atalanta had an incredible chance to level the tie on aggregate when Medhi Benatia gave the ball away and Gomez saw Buffon off his line, but the lob from midfield bounced off the damp turf and hit the upright of a completely empty goal.
Moments later, Douglas Costa’s curler from the edge of the area smacked the crossbar at the other end and had Juve cursing their luck.
Douglas Costa dribbled past four players at speed until he was unceremoniously brought down by Masiello.
Juventus were awarded a penalty in extremely controversial circumstances. Matuidi went down under a nudge from Mancini and the referee was nearby, pointing to the spot. The footage is unclear and unless there was an earlier shirt tug not caught by the cameras, it did not seem like a foul. Nonetheless, with VAR used for a silent check in the Coppa Italia, Pjanic converted the spot-kick.
Juventus 1-0 Atalanta (2-0 agg)
Pjanic pen 75 (J)
Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Benatia, Chiellini, Asamoah; Marchisio (Khedira 68), Pjanic, Matuidi; Douglas Costa (Dybala 82), Mandzukic, Alex Sandro (Barzagli 84)
Atalanta: Berisha; Mancini (Rizzo 76), Caldara, Masiello; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler (Barrow 87), Spinazzola; Cristante; Ilicic (Cornelius 63), Gomez
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