Buffon eager to break Champions League duck

The list of players who never won the UEFA Champions League is daunting and, on the evidence of last night, Juventus's Gianluigi Buffon is determined not to join them.

Gianluigi Buffon celebrates victory with Giorgio Chiellini
Gianluigi Buffon celebrates victory with Giorgio Chiellini ©AFP/Getty Images

While it was Real Madrid CF old boy Álvaro Morata's goal that ultimately saw Juventus through 3-2 on aggregate, the Italian outfit reached their first UEFA Champions League final in 12 years thanks in no small part to the performance of their sole survivor from that 2003 defeat by AC Milan: goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

The evergreen 37-year-old upstaged Madrid counterpart Iker Casillas on the Spaniard's record-equalling 150th appearance in the competition, pulling off a number of outstanding saves that kept his side in the tie. It was he who took the spoils in the battle featuring two of the greatest goalkeepers to have ever played the game.

"I'm very happy and proud of the whole team," he told UEFA.com. "After winning the first leg, we didn't just come here to defend. We knew there would be very tough moments when we'd have to hold firm, but we also played a positive game because we had other chances to score."

While Juve might have created openings of their own, it was Buffon who was by far the busier of the two keepers, particularly in the first-half as Madrid battled hard to overturn their first-leg deficit.

A full-length stop from Gareth Bale's sweetly-struck effort set the tone early on. After Cristiano Ronaldo put the reigning champions ahead on the night and overall, he produced two crucial top-drawer saves to deny Karim Benzema and prevent Madrid from extending their lead. Just for a moment Madrid looked like they could run away with it.

One of the club's most loyal servants, Buffon joined the Old Lady from Parma FC in 2001 and helped Juventus see off Madrid 4-3 on aggregate at the same stage en route to the 2003 final, when shoot-out despair followed a 0-0 draw with Milan. He cannot go on forever, but his performance on Wednesday was a poignant reminder to all of the quality he possesses.

Final joy for 'proud' Buffon
Final joy for 'proud' Buffon

"This is a step that we wanted to take with all our hearts, and we did really well to achieve it; we deserve what we've achieved," said the Italy international. He will have the chance to win one of the few trophies that has eluded him throughout his illustrious career when he leads his side out at Berlin's Olympiastadion on 6 June.

The German city will bring back happy memories: Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Andrea Barzagli were part of the Italy side that lifted the 2006 FIFA World Cup there. However, the keeper with six Scudettos, a Coppa Italia and the 1999 UEFA Cup to his name admitted they are not getting carried away. The might of FC Barcelona await in the final.

"We know there's still a match to come against, unfortunately, a really good team. They are simply in exceptional form. That's why we don't have a very good chance [of beating them], but we want to go for it because reaching the final is something that only happens every now and then, so we mustn't have any regret."

Arturo Vidal (left) tries to get ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo
Arturo Vidal (left) tries to get ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo©AFP/Getty Images
Karim Benzema reacts after missing a chance
Karim Benzema reacts after missing a chance©AFP/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo takes a free-kick
Cristiano Ronaldo takes a free-kick©AFP/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo fires in the 22nd-minute penalty that gave Madrid the lead
Cristiano Ronaldo fires in the 22nd-minute penalty that gave Madrid the lead©AFP/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Sergio Ramos celebrate Madrid's first goal
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Sergio Ramos celebrate Madrid's first goal©AFP/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after missing another chance
Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after missing another chance©AFP/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo (right) is harried by Juve defender Stephan Lichtsteiner
Cristiano Ronaldo (right) is harried by Juve defender Stephan Lichtsteiner©AFP/Getty Images
Álvaro Morata reacts after scoring the goal that took Juve through
Álvaro Morata reacts after scoring the goal that took Juve through©AFP/Getty Images
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon celebrates his side's goal
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon celebrates his side's goal©AFP/Getty Images
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