Serie A - Juve beat Cagliari to claim Scudetto
Sun, 06 May 21:48:00 2012
Juventus claimed their 28th Serie A title with a 2-0 win over Cagliari at the Stadio Nereo Rocco.
Mirko Vucinic's early goal was enough to seal the three points for the Bianconeri, who claimed their first title in nine years and are now just one match away from going through the entire league campaign unbeaten. Michele Canini's unfortunate own goal 16 minutes from time settled Juve nerves, as the visiting fans focused on events in Milan.
The win was enough for Juve to be crowned champions because of AC Milan's 4-2 defeat to Internazionale. Those results now mean that Juve have an unassailable four-point lead at the top of the table, but had the derby at San Siro been a draw then the Bianconeri's head-to-head would have been enough in any case.
The Bianconeri's title win also lays to rest the ghosts of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, which saw Juve stripped of the 2004-05 and 2005-06 titles and relegated to Serie B. The campaign to see those two titles handed back to the club, taking their haul to 30 and allowing to wear a third gold star on their shirts, is ongoing.
Perhaps given the unique set of circumstances surrounding Juve's title bid, it was oddly fitting that they should claim the championship in the rather incongruous surroundings of the Nereo Rocco in Trieste. The ground in Northern Italy is being used by Sardinian club Cagliari for their final home games of the season, and as such the stadium was only around half-full.
Juventus were unperturbed, and began the game as though they were playing at their own ground, the impressive newly-built Juventus Stadium. With just six minutes on the clock they were ahead when Vucinic latched on to Leonardo Bonucci's long through pass and slipped the ball coolly through the legs of goalkeeper Michael Agazzi.
The Montenegrin's eighth league goal for the club in his first season with them ultimately landed him his first Italian league title.
The celebratory mood among the visiting fans, who at this point were celebrating Inter taking the lead against Milan just as much as their own team's exploits, was curtailed somewhat when Stephane Lichsteiner had to be stretchered off with a neck brace after a nasty aerial collision with Mauricio Pinilla.
Pinilla had a well-struck effort fly just the wrong side of the post, whilst Simone Pepe forced a handful of blocks and saves as he marauded down the left, but the match got to half-time with just one goal on the board.
There were nerves in the stands as news filtered through that Milan had scored either side of half-time to take the lead in the derby, but then there were cheers as loud as a goal for their own team when it was discovered that Diego Milito had himself scored a second to level things up 220 miles away.
The result in Trieste was put beyond doubt when Canini tried to beat substitute Marco Borriello to a 74th-minute cross, but somehow contrived to slice and loop his attempted clearance over Agazzi's head and into his own net.
The final quarter of an hour became a championship celebration with news of Milito's hat-trick and Maicon's fourth seeping through, and the final whistle sparked delirious celebrations among manager Antonio Conte on the bench and his players and fans on the field.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Conte's achievement is that it has happened on his first season in charge of the club he also served with distinction as a player. He will likely be around in the dugout for many more years to come after his debut campaign, as Juve can look ahead to a bright future.Tony Mabert / Eurosport