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.
But the hard work had been done by Buffon, especially after midfielder Mario Lemina’s sending off in the 54th.
Buffon was mobbed by his teammates and then by fans as he celebrated the win.
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.
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.