Gianluigi Buffon has labelled Michael Oliver heartless after the English referee’s controversial awarding of a stoppage-time penalty against Juventus, which allowed Real Madrid to advance to the Champions League semi-finals at the Italians’ expense.
Juventus had clawed back a three-goal first-leg deficit at the Bernabeu and were set to take the tie to extra time. But in the 93rd minute, Oliver awarded Madrid a spot-kick for Mehdi Benatia’s challenge on Lucas Vazquez, from which Cristiano Ronaldo scored to seal a 4-3 aggregate victory.
Buffon fumed at Oliver following the decision and was sent off for his aggressive reaction, which saw him scream and point his glove in the referee’s face.
Gianluigi Buffon fumes at Michael Oliver after his awarding of a stoppage-time penalty
And the legendary goalkeeper was still seething after the final whistle, as he launched an impassioned and bizarre rant against Oliver during a post-match interview.
‘It was a tenth of a penalty,’ Buffon, who was playing in his last-ever Champions League game, told Mediaset. ‘I know the referee saw, it was certainly a dubious incident.
‘And a dubious incident at the 93rd minute when we had a clear penalty denied [for a challenge on Juan Cuadrado] in the first leg, you cannot award that at this point.
‘The team gave their all, but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation.
Oliver sent off Buffon for his furious reaction at the awarding of Madrid’s late penalty
‘Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a 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.’
‘You have to be a murderer to make the last two decisions the referee made,’ Buffon added later, on a Spanish radio station.
Buffon conceded that Madrid were worthy winners but said he was proud of his team for coming close to advancing despite entering the second leg 3-0 down.
‘Real Madrid deserved to go through over the two legs,’ Buffon said. ‘I wish them the best and it has always been an honour for me to face this club, but objectively we at least deserved to go to extra time.’
The 40-year-old storms off after being dismissed in his last-ever Champions League game
‘We started out knowing full well we had 0.0000005 per cent chance of doing it. But I am so truly proud to be part of a team that would play like this, work so hard and give everything. I am proud to be with this group of men. Naturally, there is regret and, well, anger.’
Gary Lineker came to the defence of Buffon on BT Sport’s coverage of the match, questioning whether it was necessary for Oliver to send the 40-year-old off in what was his final match in the competition.
‘I thank Lineker for what he wrote, but as I said, it’s an issue of sensitivity,’ Buffon responded. ‘It means you don’t know where you are, what teams are facing off, what players are involved. It means you’ve understood absolutely **** all.
Mehdi Benatia’s challenge on Lucas Vazquez resulted in the 91st-minute penalty in Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo smashed home the penalty to seal Real Madrid’s spot in the semi-finals
‘It disappointed me to leave the boys with 10 men, but I said objectively Real Madrid deserved the victory, we shake their hands and move on. We will be furious when stepping on to the pitch in Serie A this weekend. Furious.’
Benatia maintained his innocence in the penalty incident, insisting that he did not push Vazquez and claiming the Madrid winger went down out of desperation.
‘I can promise you, I did not push him. He went down because he had nothing else to do at that point,’ Benatia said. ‘Giving a penalty like that at the 93rd minute is simply absurd. Bayern Munich had the exact same thing last year. What can you do?’
Buffon has never won the Champions League during his 23-year career, despite reaching the final three times with Juventus in 2017, 2015 and 2005.