Italy beat Bulgaria 1-0 in Friday’s top of the table Group B World Cup qualifying encounter - but they had their goalkeeper to thank for it.
The 2006 World Champions took three points via Alberto Gilardino’s first-half header but a masterful performance from goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon preserved the victory.
The Italy number one has come under pressure in recent months after a series of errors but he was back to his best for Cesare Prandelli’s side.
Buffon made a string of top saves in the second half to deny the Bulgarians – one in particular a contender for save of the year.
Just after the interval, Ivelin Popov found himself unmarked at the back post with a tap-in from three yards. He made decent contact, but Buffon flung himself back towards his goal-line and clawed the ball away.
On the occasion of his 135th cap – putting him just one behind all-time Italy appearance record holder Fabio Cannavaro – it was one of the all-time great stops from one of the great goalkeepers of the modern era.
Check it out in the video above...
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