“Anger and Pride,” said Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport’s headline. Barcelona-based newspaper Sport dubbed it: “The Robbery of the Century.”
It was anger that gripped Gianluigi Buffon — the Juventus goalkeeper who was very much at the center of the Italian club’s dramatic Champions League exit to Real Madrid — both in the match’s final minutes and afterward as he spoke to the media.
Buffon was incensed that English referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty deep in injury time after Juve defender Medhi Benatia pushed Lucas Vazquez in the box and also appeared to catch the Spaniard with his left leg. Vazquez, seemingly, would have had a clear attempt on goal from five yards if not for the contact.
The legendary Italian keeper then saw red for bumping Oliver and ripping into him verbally, with Cristiano Ronaldo keeping his cool amid all the furore to convert the ensuing penalty in the 97th minute and put the twice defending champions through 4-3 on aggregate despite a 3-1 loss on the night at the Bernabeu.
Afterward the 40-year-old World Cup winner — likely playing in his final Champions League game with retirement on the horizon — was still fuming. He claimed Oliver crumbled.
“It was a tenth of a penalty,” Buffon told Mediaset Premium in quotes carried by the Football talian website. “I know the referee saw what he saw, but it was certainly a dubious incident.
“Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a garbage bin. On top of that, if you don’t have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, drinking your Sprite and eating crisps.
“You cannot ruin the dreams of a team. I could have told the referee anything at that moment, but he had to understand the degree of the disaster he was creating. If you can’t handle the pressure and have the courage to make a decision, then you should just sit in the stands and eat your crisps.”
CNN contacted the Premier League offering Oliver the right of reply to Buffon’s comments but it said in an email: “We won’t be putting any comment out on behalf of Michael or the Professional Game Match Officials Limited.”