Juventus crowned champions in weekend of surprise results
ROME - Juventus were crowned champions of the Serie A for an eighth successive season after victory at home over Fiorentina saw them claim the scudetto with five games to spare.
While they found themselves 1-0 down after just six minutes, Nikola Milenković burying a loose ball after Juventus failed to clear their lines, a deft near post header from Alex Sandro and an own goal from Germán Pezzella either side of half time were enough for the home side to overturn the deficit and take all three points.
Juventus’ slightly muted celebrations served to highlight that the wounds of their midweek Champions League exit at the hands of an Ajax team significantly less experienced than themselves were still fresh.
However, the team will take pride from their continued domestic success and can add this trophy to a Super Coppa victory in January in what has been another dominant season for the Bianconeri in Italy.
Juventus will also be boosted by news that Cristiano Ronaldo has committed his future to the club and is already focused on success in Europe next season.
The result, meanwhile, meant that Fiorentina’s hopes of European football of their own next season are all but over.
They were unlucky not to score more, Francesco Chiesa twice denied by the woodwork, but they will need to do more to avoid slipping into the lower half of the league in the season’s closing games.
Elsewhere, the weekend was defined by a string of unexpected results that leave everything to play for at the top of the table.
AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw away at 14th-placed Parma, conceding an equaliser in the closing minutes and continuing their inconsistent recent form.
Lazio, meanwhile, produced one of the worst performances of their campaign as they lost at home to already relegated Chievo, only the second victory of the Verona outfit’s season.
Despite recording 25 shots during the game, Lazio only managed four on target and this showed as Chievo scored two goals in three minutes just after the break to surge into what would be an unassailable lead.
Lazio did pull one back through Felipe Caicedo, however it was to be in vain as Lazio slipped to eighth and lost ground in the race for the European qualification spots.
Furthermore, red cards to Sergej Milinković-Savić and Luis Alberto leave the side from Rome short of firepower in their upcoming tests against Sampdoria and Atalanta.
Napoli too continued a poor run of form, following up their dismal Europa League performances against Arsenal with a second home loss in five days.
Despite taking the lead through Dries Mertens just before the half hour mark, and coming within millimetres of a second as a Milik effort was saved off the line, a poor ten-minute period was enough to see Atalanta score twice and snatch the three points at the death.
Goals from Duván Zapata and Mario Pašalić proved the difference as the side from Bergamo moved to fifth, tied on points with AC Milan who currently occupy the final Champions League qualification spot in fourth.
Sampdoria, too, produced a woeful display to lose 3-0 away at relegation battling Bologna. Second half goals for Erick Pulgar and Riccardo Orsolini as well as a Lorenzo Tonelli own goal saw the home side leapfrog both Genoa and Udinese into 15th place and more clear of the relegation zone for the first time in the last few months.
Sampdoria, meanwhile, have now lost three of their last four games as they continue to lose sight of the division’s top sides.
Elsewhere, Roma battled to a 1-1 draw away at Inter, Stephan El Shaarawy’s wonderful opener cancelled out by an Ivan Perišić strike deep in the second half. Udinese and Sassuolo also played out a 1-1 draw in a result that leaves the former perilously close to the relegation spots.
Both Cagliari and Torino took three points from the weekend, winning 1-0 against Frosinone and Genoa respectively, while SPAL put four past Empoli to win 4-2 on the road and draw level on points with Sassuolo in 12th.