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The Italian goalkeeper, has now made the same number of appearances as legendary goalkeeper Dino Zoff, says the midfielder can change a game from anywhere on the pitch

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon believes “there is always hope” that Andrea Pirlo will make the difference for his team when he is on the ball.

The midfielder scored a stunning free kick in the dying minutes to secure a 1-0 win over Genoa and restore the reigning champions’ lead at the top of Serie A to 17 points.

And the Italian shot stopper says his Azzurri team-mate can influence any game no matter where he is on the field.

“Did I have hope when I saw Pirlo on the free kick? Of course," he told reporters after the game.

"There’s always hope when Pirlo’s on the ball, even if he’s in my penalty area. He’s one of those players who allows you to dream at any given moment when he has the ball at his feet."

The Juve talisman has now made 476 appearances for the club in all competitions, drawing level with legendary stopper Dino Zoff, a record he hasn't quite embraced as of yet.

“It feels strange to be placed alongside Zoff. He is a legend of the sport all over the world and especially for players in my position.

“This makes me realise how far I’ve come, but it also leaves me uneasy, because I don’t feel worthy of being compared with Zoff."

Sunday's victory puts the Bianconeri 17 points ahead of second-placed Roma, who play Udinese on Monday and Buffon believes they have an incredible advantage as they move ever closer to a third successive league title. 

“It makes us very proud to have won this game and we hope the fans and club can be proud too, as we proved this team knows how to suffer under pressure and roll their sleeves up.

“Is it another brick in the wall of the Scudetto? More than a brick I’d call it a landslide!”

The Italy international saved an Emanuele Calaio penalty and he admitted he was happy to see the Napoli loanee step up instead of Alberto Gilardino, who had been substituted earlier in the game.

“I thought Gilardino was going to take it and you never know how he takes penalties, so I would’ve been in trouble! Fortunately he went off and I had to face a different player.

“I think it’s a wonderful day for me and for the team. Whoever wrote this script did a great job."