Soccer

Italy goalkeeper Buffon equals Cannavaro's record

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TURIN, Italy (AP)

Italy and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon equaled Fabio Cannavaro's record of 136 international appearances for the Azzurri on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old Buffon was in goal as Italy secured a place in the2014 World Cup with a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic, thanks to goals from Juventus teammate Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Balotelli.

''I have a dread of the lead-ups to games that are proclaimed as parties,'' Buffon said. ''Now we can celebrate everything. I'm even happier with my personal record after we've qualified. So I thank Chiello, Mario and all the lads, as thanks to them I can celebrate at 360 degrees tonight's victory.

''We have created so much together over these years and I thank the fans for cheering us on today, as it felt like a new atmosphere to have so much support for the Nazionale. That wasn't always the case.''

The match was being played at the Juventus Stadium - a fitting location for Buffon, who has spent most of his club career at Juventus.

Buffon - who is widely regarded as one of the best ever goalkeepers - made his Italy debut aged 19 on a snowy field in Moscow when he replaced the injured Gianluca Pagliuca midway through the first leg of a crucial qualifying playoff against Russia to reach the 1998 World Cup.

It will likely be a fifth World Cup for Buffon, who was a key player in Italy's victory in the 2006 tournament.

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