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Sarri hails ‘born fighter’ Buffon after Juventus’ shoot-out win

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Maurizio Sarri praised Gianluigi Buffon after the goalkeeper starred in Juventus’ penalty shoot-out victory over Inter Milan and defended Matthijs de Ligt’s own goal.

Buffon came on as a second-half substitute for Wojciech Szczesny, with Juventus a goal down after De Ligt had put the ball into the back of his own net inside 10th-minute.

Despite the sweltering conditions in China, however, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a free-kick right on the edge of the area to put the Bianconeri level at 1-1.

The two evenly-matched sides then settled for a draw in their International Champions Cup clash, which meant the tide had to go into penalties.

And it was the ageless Buffon who starred upon denying Andrea Ranocchia, Samuele Longo and Borja Valero to earn Juventus a 4-3 win in the shoot-out.

“Buffon’s great strength is that he’s a born fighter. He was ready when called upon and was extraordinary in the shoot-out,” Sarri told Sportitalia.

“Ronaldo had the usual excellent performance. We can improve a great deal in our attacking moves and that would make it easier for him.”

De Ligt’s unfortunate own goal came in his first start as a Juventus player on Wednesday. However, Sarri defended the club’s €75m signing by insisting he holds no responsibility towards the team’s first-half struggles.

“We can improve, particularly on pressing high to win the ball back when defending,” continued the Bianconeri boss.

“We must focus on defending by going forward, not allowing them to get behind us.

“It’s normal that it takes a while to change that mentality. I made a mistake this morning, as I got them to have a 45-minute training session, but we felt it in this heat.”

Juventus will next meet Atletico Madrid for their final ICC match in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 10.

NANJING, CHINA – JULY 24: Players of Juventus line up for team photos prior to the International Champions Cup match between Juventus and FC Internazionale at the Nanjing Olympic Center Stadium on July 24, 2019 in Nanjing, China. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)