Pjanic’s penalty seals Juve’s spot in Italian Cup final

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ROME (AP) Miralem Pjanic scored a controversial penalty as Juventus beat visiting Atalanta 1-0 Wednesday to reach the Italian Cup final.

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It appeared that Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi was only slightly touched from behind by Gianluca Mancini while attempting to meet a cross in the 74th.

But the referee’s decision was confirmed by the VAR and Pjanic converted into the center of the net as goalkeeper Etrit Berisha leaped to his right.

Juventus advanced 2-0 on aggregate following Gonzalo Higuain’s goal in the first leg.

Higuain sat out the second leg due to a minor injury.

In the May 9 final, Juventus will face either Lazio or AC Milan, who were playing later in Rome following a 0-0 first leg.

Juventus has won the Italian Cup a record 12 times, including the last three years.

After a first half in which Juventus seemed content to protect its first-leg advantage and Atalanta produced little, the match came to life midway through the second half when both sides hit the goalframe.

A long lob from Atalanta’s Alejandro “Papu” Gomez hit the post following a defensive error by Medhi Benatia.

Gomez then blasted another dangerous effort over the crossbar before Juve’s Douglas Costa curled a long shot off the bar just minutes later.

Juventus was also slated to host Atalanta in Serie A on Sunday but that match was snowed out and will be made up March 14.

Snow also fell during Wednesday’s game but it did not stick to the pitch.

More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA