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May 1, 2014

Conte hits out at Benfica, referee

ESPN FC's Stewart Robson gives praise to the Benfica back line for putting the Portuguese club through to the Europa League Final.

Juventus manager Antonio Conte complained about Benfica's physical defensive strategy and referee Mark Clattenburg after his side crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday, saying "the team that least deserved it went through."

Antonio Conte rain woe Juventus vs BEnfica
Antonio Conte's Juventus could not find a way through Benfica on Thursday.

Despite going down to 10 men, Benfica held on for a 0-0 draw in the second leg and won 2-1 on aggregate.

Conte, as well as his players, were particularly upset that Benfica advanced to the final despite not putting a shot on target in the second leg.

Rzouki: Crushing loss for Juventus

"It's a shame, as with two shots on target over two legs Benfica went through. Over the two games Juventus certainly deserved to go through," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"It was a real pity, as in the first leg there was a red card and penalty for the elbow on [Giorgio] Chiellini, while tonight there was an obvious penalty not given. The team that least deserved it went through.

"You just have to look at the statistics. Benfica had two shots on target over two legs. That was it. They have international experience and showed it tonight, as down to 10 men they stopped us playing and I am truly disappointed the referee allowed them to get away with that."

Conte hit out at English referee Clattenburg despite playing more than seven minutes of stoppage time at the end of the match.

"What didn't work was that we didn't get that incident going our way," Conte said. "It's a shame, as these games are right on the limit, Benfica obstructed us at every turn and the referee allowed them to do it.

"He gave six minutes of stoppages when we were already three in without playing, so it took us for a ride."

Chiellini praised Benfica on their defense but expressed regret over Juventus' failure to score from a large number of opportunities, while also saying Juventus deserved to go through.

"There are regrets, as over two legs they had two shots on goal and went through. We created so much and didn't qualify," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"Benfica reach the final, but to be honest I feel that we deserved it more. We could've made more of the last 10 minutes, but deserved to be ahead long before then."

Leonardo Bonucci was less complimentary of Juve's opponents, saying Benfica "didn't come here to play."

"Tonight it was confirmed that in this sport the best team doesn't always win," Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia. "Benfica thought only about the first leg result, they didn't come here to play and only tried to obstruct us.

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