Buffon makes emotional farewell as Juventus sign off with win

Gianluigi Buffon bade an emotional farewell to Juventus as the veteran goalkeeper marked his 640th and last Serie A appearance with another victory.

Buffon, who announced on Thursday he would be ending his 17-year spell with the Turin giants, helped the champions finish the season with a 2-1 win over relegated Hellas Verona.

Juventus had already wrapped up a seventh straight title, so this game was an opportunity to pay tribute to their departing captain.

And he was already off the pitch by the time Verona got their consolation goal after efforts from Daniele Rugani and Miralem Pjanic had put the hosts in charge.

He left the pitch for the final time as a Juventus player after being substituted in the 63rd minute, embracing team-mates, staff and opponents alike as he made his way to the touchline.

There were plenty of tears in the crowd as Juve supporters said goodbye to one of the finest goalkeepers the game has ever seen.

The tears had been there at the start too. Buffon was accompanied by his three sons as he led out the team at the Allianz Stadium and greeted emotional Juve supporters in the crowd ahead of kick-off, the fans eager to say their own goodbyes to their departing idol.

Banners saluting the 40-year-old were scattered throughout the stadium, including a huge picture of the goalkeeper.

Messages had earlier poured in from his team-mates on social media.

Paulo Dybala wrote: "100 games together, 1,040 days, smiles, tears, hugs. You taught me so much, you were the captain of my achievements. I wish you the happiest future, my captain. I will miss you @gianluigibuffon now let's have fun together again!"

Claudio Marchisio said: "The way you have loved our colours will remain a source of inspiration for generations."

And Blaise Matuidi said: "It was an honour to play with you. Goodbye captain."

Buffon, who has not announced his retirement but said he has not yet made up his mind about his next move, saw his team-mates struggle to break down Verona in the first half, with Dybala's chip which came back off the bar the closest they came.

But Rugani opened the scoring in the 49th minute, tapping home after goalkeeper Nicolas parried Douglas Costa's low effort.

And Pjanic made it two just three minutes later, whipping a fine right-footed free-kick from a couple of yards outside the area over the wall and into the left corner, with Nicolas left rooted to the spot.

Buffon made his exit shortly after the hour mark, given a guard of honour as he made his way off the pitch, all corners of the stadium rising in appreciation.

Carlo Pinsoglio replaced him and he conceded as Alessio Cerci pulled one back in the 76th minute.

Stephan Lichtsteiner, another Juve stalwart leaving the club this summer, then saw his 85th-minute penalty saved by Nicolas.

It did not prove costly as the hosts closed out victory, but the day belonged to Buffon.

PA & Digital Desk

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