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Coronavirus concerns postpone cup semifinal between Juventus-Milan

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MILAN — The Italian Cup semifinal between Juventus and AC Milan scheduled for Wednesday in Turin has been postponed indefinitely as part of measures to stop the spread of the virus outbreak in Italy.

Serie A made the announcement late Tuesday — less than 24 hours before the second-leg match was scheduled to kick off.

The first leg ended 1-1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Ten Serie A matches throughout northern Italy have also been postponed over the past two weekends.

Nearly 80 people have died and more than 2,000 have been infected in Italy by the COVID-19 virus.

The other Cup semifinal between Napoli and Inter Milan in Naples on Thursday is still set to be played as scheduled. Napoli won the first leg 1-0.

Buffon hails Ronaldo, Zlatan, himself after nine-save show

Gianluigi Buffon
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Gianluigi Buffon is not taking for granted his final days as a player.

The iconic 42-year-old goalkeeper had an exceptional day between the sticks for Juventus in a 1-1 draw with 10-man AC Milan.

Buffon made nine saves against an ascendant and lively Milan, keeping the Old Lady in the Coppa Italia semifinal tie despite conceding a less-than-ideal goal to Ante Rebic.

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The keeper struck a defiant tone in relishing a starring role, and used the opportunity of his turning back to the clock to shower praise on Juve teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

From Football-Italia:

“I have to admit, I smile at this, because so many turned their noses up when Ibrahimovic was coming to Milan, but at the age of 38, he is making the difference. When it comes to players, you have to analyze them individually and not just as a birthdate. I am very happy for him, he is an extraordinary champion.”

On Ronaldo, Buffon said, “One of the reasons I returned to Juventus was the opportunity to play and train with Cristiano Ronaldo and every day is a revelation.”

Milan’s Daniel Maldini was an unused sub on the day, but the 18-year-old featured in Buffon’s plans.

Buffon traded jerseys with the teenager, just as he did with his father Paolo Maldini. He noted that he’s also traded jerseys with George and Timothy Weah, Lilian and Marcus Thuram,and Enrico and Federico Chiesa.

When he finally does retire, he may leave with the title of the most Interesting Footballer in the World.

Controversial late penalty helps Ronaldo, Juve to 1st leg draw at Milan

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Off-form for most of the day, Cristiano Ronaldo showed up when it mattered in earning and converting a controversial penalty in a 1-1 draw with 10-man AC Milan on Thursday in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal tie.

Red-hot Ante Rebic and Milan nearly claimed control, but couldn’t hold onto the lead after Theo Hernandez was shown his second yellow card.

The two sides meet again March 4 in Turin. The other semifinal has Napoli leading Inter Milan 1-0 at the first leg in Milan.

Ronaldo was held without a shot on target until stoppage time, and Gianluigi Buffon was Juve’s star in the loss. The veteran goalkeeper kept the Old Lady in the match with nine saves.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Rebic scored off a Samu Castillejo assist as Milan took the lead before despite the 71st minute sending off of Theo Hernandez.

The defending was less than ideal on Rebic’s goal, as the Croatian scored for the fifth time in six matches. Rebic has caught fire with regular playing time after getting little chance to show his stuff in his first 10 matches since signing on a two-year loan from Eintracht Frankfurt.

Juventus had a lot of the ball, but AC Milan ripped off far more shots in the win. They carried an 18-7 advantage when Hernandez saw his second yellow card, but finished the day witha. 21-14 margin.

An airborne Davide Calabria was, we guess, supposed to know that Ronaldo’s overhead kick would strike the back of his elbow. Bad rule, correct call. Fix it.

The goal was Ronaldo’s eighth from the spot this season.

Lazio controversially tops Atalanta to win seventh Coppa Italia

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The latest name to grace the Coppa Italia is Lazio.

Late goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa lifted the Roman side to a 2-0 defeat of Atalanta in the Italian Cup Final.

It’s Lazio’s 7th Coppa Italia, tied for third with Inter Milan. Juventus won the previous four to give it 13 all-time, while Roma’s nine are good for second.

[ MORE: Derby County reaches playoff final ]

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini was furious with officials for not consulting VAR after ex-Middlesbrough defender Marten De Roon‘s shot hit the hand of Lazio defender Bastos in the box. From the BBC:

“Are we meant to only use VAR when it’s handy? It was a penalty and a red card,” Gasperini said. “This is a scandal. Tell me why it happened? Give me some justification.”

The match was a sub-story in some areas, as fans lit a police car on fire as part of several clashes with authorities.

Fiorentina coach Pioli steps down amid seven-game winless run

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli has stepped down amid a seven-match winless streak.

The club says assistant coach Giacomo Murelli was directing training on Tuesday, while no immediate replacement was named.

[ MORE: Spurs-Man City recap | Kane hurt | 3 things ]

Fiorentina has dropped out of contention for European competition and is down to 10th place in Serie A following a loss at home to relegation-threatened Frosinone on Sunday.

The club is anxious to straighten things out before facing Atalanta in the second leg of the Italian Cup semifinals on April 25. The first leg ended 3-3.

Pioli was hired in June 2017 and led Fiorentina to an eighth-place finish last season.

It’s the 12th coaching change in the Italian league this season.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports