LYON, France: Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon shrugged off recent uncharacteristic errors with an outstanding performance on Tuesday to help 10-man Juventus win 1-0 at Lyon in the Champions League.
Colombia midfielder Juan Cuadrado scored the winner in the 76th minute after cutting in down the right, beating full back Jeremy Morel and launching an unstoppable shot into the near top corner from the tightest of angles.
The win kept Juventus top of Group H with seven points, ahead of Sevilla — which won 1-0 at Dinamo Zagreb — on goal difference.
But the hard work had been done by Buffon, especially after midfielder Mario Lemina’s sending off in the 54th.
“It was very important not to lose with 10 against 11 but we managed to win, so it’s a great joy,” Buffon said through a translator on beIN SPORTS television. “We suffered a lot and in the end we had a bit of luck as well. In these games it comes down to the smallest details.”
Buffon was mobbed by his teammates and then by fans as he celebrated the win.
“We knew it would be very difficult to play for 35 minutes with a player less, so we had to go for it,” said Buffon, who played down his performance with typical modesty. “I’m very happy to have helped my teammates and I’m pleased my performance brings joy to the fans.”
The 38-year-old Italian goalkeeper has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons in the past two games, after a terrible mistake for Italy against Spain in a World Cup qualifier followed by another sloppy error against Udinese in Serie A last weekend.
But he guessed the right way and dived to his left to palm away striker Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty in the 35th minute.
Then, early into the second half, he made an astonishing save to deny Lyon forward Nabil Fekir, using his opposite hand to palm the ball over even though he was wrong-footed and looked well beaten.
Television images showed Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes applauding the save.
He was not done yet, and Buffon somehow saved midfielder Corentin Tolisso’s point-blank header with his legs with 20 minutes remaining.
“He was remarkable,” Lyon captain Maxime Gonalons said, praising Buffon — but also his own teammates. “We can be proud, because we did well against a team that is going to be fighting for the Champions League (title).”
Lemina received a second yellow card after again chopping down Fekir, who stood out for a Lyon side showing total commitment but lacking creativity.
Because of injuries, Lyon’s 19-year-old defender Mouctar Diakhaby played only the second match of his career. The imposing center back managed the rare feat of beating Italy center half Leonardo Bonucci in the air but headed wide in the 14th.
It proved a sign of things to come as Bonucci struggled to deal with Diakhaby’s presence and hauled him down to give away the penalty. Lacazette’s spot-kick was well read by Buffon although too close to his body.
Juve did not threaten much until Cuadrado’s goal.
Striker Gonzalo Higuain had an angled shot and a smart header saved by Lopes, while Bonucci headed just wide on the stroke of halftime.
Lyon substitute Rachid Ghezzal’s angled drive from 20 meters rolled just wide in injury time.