Juventus thrash Cagliari to win Serie A title
Juventus won its 28th Serie A title after defeating Cagliari 2-0 to stay unbeaten and AC Milan lost 4-2 to Inter Milan in the next-to-last round.
It is Juventus’ first league championship since 2003, with its two titles since then being revoked because of match-fixing. The team is four points ahead of Milan.
Mirko Vucinic gave Juventus the lead in the sixth minute and an own goal by Michele Canini sealed the result.
Defending champion Milan had the chance to take the title race to the last round of the season but a hat trick from Diego Milito — including two penalties — and a stunning goal by Maicon gave Inter victory in a thrilling and contentious derby match.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a double for Milan. It will be the first time since 2004 that the former Ajax, Juventus, Inter and Barcelona striker won’t be in the team with the most league points.
Juventus took an early lead with its first real chance. Leonardo Bonucci sent a long ball over the top of the defence and Vucinic beat the offside trap to race clear and slot the ball home between goalkeeper Michael Agazzi’s legs.
There was bad news for Juventus when Stephan Lichtsteiner was taken off on a stretcher while wearing a neck brace after a clash of heads with Cagliari strike Mauricio Pinilla. Lichtsteiner was taken to a hospital.
Cagliari had a rare chance 10 minutes before halftime when Pinilla’s fierce strike from 40 yards scraped past the outside of the post.
Slicing the ball
Juve made sure of the result in the 74th minute, Martin Caceres crossing into the area and Canini slicing the ball horribly over his own goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
As news filtered through of Inter’s fourth goal three minutes from time, the celebrations began in earnest in Trieste.
Milan needed to win to keep its title chances alive but Inter took the lead when Walter Samuel found Milito, who slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.
It was almost worse for Milan six minutes later when Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder’s strike was parried by goalkeeper Christian Abbiati and Lucio fired home the rebound. The attempt was rightly ruled out for offside.
Inter midfielder Esteban Cambiasso thought he had scored shortly after the half hour but Abbiati stopped the header and referee Nicola Rizzoli judged that the ball hadn’t crossed the line. Replays appeared to show otherwise.
There was further controversy minutes before halftime when Rizzoli awarded a penalty to Milan after Julio Cesar had brought down Kevin-Prince Boateng, even though the Inter goalkeeper had clearly reached the ball first.
Julio Cesar tried to put off Ibrahimovic, even walking right up to his former teammate to say something before sticking his tongue out. However, it was to no avail as Ibrahimovic tucked away his 27th goal of the season and his 10th penalty.
It took Ibrahimovic just 30 seconds of the second half to double his tally, bursting between Maicon and Lucio before shooting into the bottom left corner.
Inter felt hard done by again when Cambiasso was denied a penalty after he appeared to have been bundled down by Sulley Muntari and Mario Yepes. Moments later, the team received a spot kick following a moment of madness from Ignazio Abate, who hauled down Milito. The Argentine levelled from the spot.
Inter was awarded another penalty 11 minutes from time after Alessandro Nesta handled in the area. Milan thought the handball was accidental but Rizzoli waved away the protests and Milito completed his hat trick.
Maicon sealed the result and Milan’s fate with a long-range effort that flew in just underneath the crossbar.
Meanwhile, in the race for third place, Udinese is now in pole position to claim Italy’s last Champions League place after it beat nine-man Genoa 2-0 and Napoli lost by the same score at Bologna.
Antonio di Natale and Antonio Floro Flores scored for Udinese, which played more than 50 minutes with a two-man advantage after Juraj Kucka and Rodrigo Palacio were dismissed for Genoa.
Lazio also has an outside chance of reaching Europe’s elite after beating Atalanta 2-0 to close to within two points of Udinese.
Elsewhere, Palermo and Chievo Verona both let two-goal advantages slip to draw 4-4. In a meaningless match between two sides already relegated, Novara beat Cesena 3-0.
In the early game, Sebastian Giovinco’s stunning long-range strike helped Parma to a 2-0 win at Siena.—Sapa-AP