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Higuain and Buffon lead Juventus past Atalanta 1-0 in Cup

January 30, 2018

Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain, left, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Italian Cup, first-left semifinal soccer match between Atalanta and Juventus, in Bergamo, Italy, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Paolo Magni/ANSA via AP)

BERGAMO, Italy (AP) — Gonzalo Higuain and Gianluigi Buffon combined to help Juventus beat Atalanta 1-0 for a crucial away victory in the first leg of their Italian Cup semifinal on Tuesday.

After three minutes on a foggy night, Higuain finished off a counterattack by dribbling around a defender and scoring from the center of the area.

“It was important to score and also keep a clean sheet,” Higuain said. “We took a big step toward the final.”

Midway through the first half, the video assistant referee awarded Atalanta a penalty for a hand ball by Medhi Benatia, but Buffon guessed correctly and lunged to his left to smother Alejandro “Papu” Gomez’s spot kick.

Two days earlier, Buffon celebrated his 40th birthday.

Juventus is aiming to win its fourth straight Italian Cup while Atalanta is looking to reach the final for the first time in 22 years, since losing in 1996 to Fiorentina.

In the quarterfinals, Atalanta eliminated Napoli.

AC Milan hosts Lazio in the other semifinal Wednesday.

The return legs are scheduled for Feb. 28.

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