Italian Serie A: Vidal seals second successive title for Juventus
Rome: Juventus claimed their second successive Serie A title with a hard-earned 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Palermo in Turin on Sunday.
The Bianconeri performed poorly but fortune smiled on them, with Fabrizio Miccoli striking the post before Arturo Vidal made the crucial breakthrough from the spot after Massimo Donati had been penalised for a senseless shove into the back of Mirko Vucinic.
With the pressure off, Antonio Conte`s men could even have added a second in the closing stages, with Fabio Quagliarella thumping a shot against the bar, and even though Paul Pogba saw red late on for spitting at Santiago Garcia. But one goal still proved sufficient to secure a Scudetto that has been theirs for the taking for some time now.
Juventus had gone into the game knowing that they needed only a draw to clinch the title but it was clear right from the very first minute that victory was the only thing on their minds, with wing-backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah taking turns to terrorise the Palermo defence during an early Bianconeri onslaught.
For all Andrea Pirlo’s probing, though, Juventus struggled to break through a disciplined Rosanero rearguard, which was being diligently protected by Egidio Arevalo Rios, who repeatedly pilfered possession back for his side during a dynamic display.
However, Lichtsteiner prised Palermo open just before the half-hour mark with a wonderfully weighted through-ball for lone striker Mirko Vucinic, who held off Massimo Donati well only to then see Stefano Sorrentino save well with his feet.
That near miss failed to lift the Bianconeri, though, and a wayward header from Pogba was the best they could must before the conclusion of a surprisingly ineffective first half from the home side’s perspective.
In truth, they did not improve much after the interval and were extremely fortunate not to have fallen behind five minutes after the restart when Miccoli found some space in the area for the first time and very nearly made it count, unleashing a shot that deflected off Giorgio Chiellini but then came back off the base of the right post.
However, just as it appeared that Palermo might be poised to prolong Juve`s wait for the title, a rush of blood to head allowed the hosts to break the deadlock right out of the blue. Paul Pogba lofted the ball into Vucinic, who, with his back to goal, represented little threat to the Palermo goal. However, Massimo Donati inexplicably elected to barge into the back of the Montenegrin, leaving the referee with little option but to point to the spot.
Vidal unsurprisingly punished Donati’s stupidity by coolly rolling home the resulting penalty, though his task was aided by Sorrentino’s rather bizarre decision to jump ridiculously early.
Juventus suddenly looked like a different side and Vucinic very nearly doubled the hosts` advantage on 66 minutes when he connected with Pogba`s chip in behind, but the striker`s volley was well saved by Sorrentino.
Quagliarella then rattled the bar with a thumping strike from the edge of the area, just moments after coming on in place of Vucinic, before Pogba was sent off for spitting at Santiago Garcia during an eventful ending to an otherwise dull encounter.
Palmero pushed forward in a bid to aide their bid for survival, but to no avail, with Juventus holding on quite comfortably to spark wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.