SPORTS NEWS

Juventus earn record 7th straight Serie A title

Rome, May 14: Juventus became the first team to win seven consecutive Serie A titles and a record-extending 34th time in all after a 0-0 draw against AS Roma here, even as second-placed Napoli defeated Sampdoria 2-0 in Naples in the penultimate round on Sunday.

Following the draw at the Stadio Olimpico, Juventus have 92 points from 37 games. Napoli have 88 points from 37 games as they took three points for their win over Sampdoria, thanks to second-half goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Raul Albiol at the San Paolo.

Even before the kick-off in the capital, Juventus, though mathematically had not secured the title, but they were there practically, having a better goal difference of 15 against Napoli. Both had defeated each other with the margin of 1-0 in their away games.
Hence, if the Turin powerhouse had failed to win their remaining fixtures and Napoli managed to win theirs, it would have boiled down to goal difference where Juventus were superior.

However, Roma and Juventus played a rather intense match, although neither squad managed to create solid goal-scoring opportunities in a fairly equal first half where the defence was where the action developed.

Juventus’ advantage became more evident after the 68th minute, when Roma found themselves a man short after two yellow cards were shown to Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan, the second on a hard foul against Argentina forward Paulo Dybala.

In the final minutes, Juventus easily controlled the game’s rhythm against a Roma that seemed to have lost their aggressiveness and, after two minutes of extra time, they were able to celebrate their seventh consecutive league title.

It was their fourth league title under the guidance of Massimiliano Allegri, who also becomes the first coach in Europe’s four leagues to win four consecutive domestic doubles of league and Cup titles. Juventus had thrashed AC Milan on Wednesday in Rome to win the Copa Italia final.
“Four years like these don’t come along often and I have to thank the staff and everyone who has worked with us for their contribution. Winning with these players is a great feeling and never easy. As I always say, winning is something extraordinary,” Allegri was quoted as saying by Juventus’ website.

“I’m in charge of a fantastic squad made up of some great players, backed by a club which has always supported us, even in moments of difficulty. Keeping level heads always make the difference, and you could see it in the key games. We always managed to keep our composure,” he added.

“Credit goes to the lads for keeping their cool, taking things one step at a time towards our final objective. If you get overexcited, you risk falling apart. Putting in the work on a psychological level is fundamental to winning — if you’re up and down the whole time you’ll never win a thing.”

Third-placed Roma, who had already secured a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League, have 74 points.
The fourth and final Champions League spot will be decided in the next round when Lazio face Inter Milan. Lazio have 72 points, while Inter have 69 points.
Meanwhile, Atalanta held AC Milan to a 1-1 draw, threatening the latter’s hopes of finishing Italian league play in a Europa League position.
After losing the Italian Cup final 0-4 to Juventus, Milan had to settle for an away draw.
After a goalless first half, Milan midfielder Franck Kessie opened the scoring for his side in the 60th minute.
Atalanta defender Rafael Toloi and Milan midfielder Riccardo Montolivo were sent off in the 64th and 75th minutes, respectively.
In injury time, Andrea Masiello netted the late equaliser for Atalanta to keep his side’s Europa League hopes alive.

With this draw, Milan have 61 points and remain in sixth place, which secures them a berth in the next edition of the Europa League, while Atalanta are just one point behind Milan in seventh position. IANS