June 18 (UPI) -- Cristiano Ronaldo has now lost back-to-back finals for the first time in his career after Napoli beat Juventus in penalty kicks in the Italian Cup final.
Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon and Napoli's Alex Meret kept clean sheets through regulation, which prompted the penalty session. Arkadiusz Milik sealed the win when he made his attempt from the penalty mark Wednesday at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
"There is disappointment for the boys, for the club, for the fans ... both [because of] the physical condition and for some important absences," Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri told reporters.
"We lacked brilliance to make the game dangerous, and without that brilliance, it becomes more difficult to [score], which our players are normally used to doing easily, and finding other solutions."
Meret came up big to start the shootout. The Italian goalie blocked Paulo Dybala's first attempt for Juventus. Lorenzo Insigne then stepped up and beat Buffon to give Napoli a 1-0 edge. Juventus star Danilo then blasted a shot over the bar. Napoli's Matteo Politano then put Napoli up -0 when he squeezed another shot by Buffon.
Leonardo Bonucci finally beat Meret with a shot off the bar to cut Napoli's penalty lead in half. Nikola Maksimovic then made Napoli's third consecutive penalty shot. Aaron Ramey cut the Napoli lead to 3-2 when he beat Meret on Juventus' fourth attempt.
Milik then sealed the Italian Cup title when he beat Buffon on the final strike from the stripe.
"I am happy to have made my contribution," Meret said. "I am proud to be part of this group. I dedicate this victory to my family and Napoli fans."
The loss was Ronaldo's second-consecutive setback in a final. The Portuguese striker was also on the field for Juventus' loss to Lazio in December in the Italian Super Cup finale.
Juventus has a one-point lead over Lazio for first place in the Serie A standings. Napoli is in 6th place in Serie A. The Italian soccer league resumes play Saturday for the first time since it was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Juventus battles Bologna at 3:45 p.m. EDT Monday in Bologna.