Thursday May 1 2014
Bonucci: 'Benfica didn't play'

Leonardo Bonucci had his birthday ruined and the Juventus defender said Benfica “didn’t come here to play.”

The centre-back turned 27 today, but was left in tears at the final whistle after a 0-0 draw sent Benfica to the Europa League Final 2-1 on aggregate.

“I had dreamed of a different birthday. Tonight it was confirmed that in this sport the best team doesn’t always win,” Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia.
“Benfica thought only about the first leg result, they didn’t come here to play and only tried to obstruct us.

“Of course now we have to turn over a new leaf, look forward with positivity and try to win our third consecutive Scudetto. We leave the Europa League with our heads held high.”

Juve failed to find the net even against nine men, so could they have done more?

“We didn’t create as many chances as usual, but there were three or four occasions where we were very close. Don’t forget Luisao performed a goalline clearance, as that was going in.

“Benfica had seven men in defence and in the end details make the difference. We made too many mistakes in Lisbon, both in attack and defence, so if that had ended differently then we might’ve been celebrating tonight.

“There is certainly disappointment, as we knew the Final was within our grasp. Over two legs we proved that we played better, but Benfica came here determined not to concede a goal, one way or another.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but once we absorb this we have to learn from the experience and look forward.”

Juventus can celebrate the Scudetto on Monday evening with a win over Atalanta.