Higuain and Buffon lead Juventus past Atalanta in Coppa Italia

Atalanta's Alejandro Dario Gomez misses a penalty kick during during the Italian Cup, first-leg semifinal soccer match between Atalanta and Juventus, in Bergamo, Italy, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Paolo Magni/ANSA via AP)

BERGAMO, Italy — Gonzalo Higuain and Gianluigi Buffon combined to help Juventus beat Atalanta 1-0 for a crucial away victory in the first leg of their Italian Cup semifinal on Tuesday.

After three minutes on a foggy night, Higuain finished off a counterattack by dribbling around a defender and scoring from the centre of the area.

"It was important to score and also keep a clean sheet," Higuain said. "We took a big step toward the final."

Midway through the first half, the video assistant referee awarded Atalanta a penalty for a hand ball by Medhi Benatia, but Buffon guessed correctly and lunged to his left to smother Alejandro "Papu" Gomez’s spot kick.

Two days earlier, Buffon celebrated his 40th birthday.

Juventus is aiming to win its fourth straight Italian Cup while Atalanta is looking to reach the final for the first time in 22 years, since losing in 1996 to Fiorentina.

In the quarterfinals, Atalanta eliminated Napoli.

AC Milan hosts Lazio in the other semifinal Wednesday.

The return legs are scheduled for Feb. 28.

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