Drama and chaos as Juve claims title
MILAN - Reuters
Juventus clinched its first Italian Serie A title for nine seasons after beating Cagliari 2-0. Juve beat Milan to the title. AFP photoJuventus clinched its first Italian title for nine seasons on May 6 but not until Serie A had dished up its customary climactic mix of chaos, drama and controversy.
Unbeaten Juventus comfortably dispatched Cagliari 2-0 in a match which the Sardinians hosted in Trieste - closer to Zagreb than its own island base - and featured a last minute change in kickoff times.
The title was assured when AC Milan, the only team who could catch them, lost 4-2 to bitter rivals Inter in a match which featured three penalties, a hat-trick for Diego Milito, two goals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and yet another ghost goal.
The final whistle in Trieste was greeted by an unruly pitch invasion by Juventus fans and the champions quickly re-ignited the controversy over how many titles they had won.
Officially, it was Juventus’ 28th Serie A title - an Italian record - yet Juve players and officials were quick to bring up the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal which resulted in them being stripped of the 2005 and 2006 titles.
”It’s our 30th Scudetto,” Juventus sporting director Giuseppe Marotta told television reporters after his team moved four points clear of Milan with one game to play. ”We have 30 on all the champagne bottles and we have won 30 titles.”
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, one of several players who went down to Serie B when Juventus was demoted as a result of Calciopoli, joined in the debate.
”I won five titles on the field although they have only awarded me three of them, well, what can I do about it?” said the 2006 World Cup winner, who also won Serie A titles in 2002 and 2003.
Buffon has had a superb season, rediscovering the form which made him one of the world’s top goalkeepers as Juventus was revitalized in the first season under the leadership of Antonio Conte.
Milan was left to reflect on the possible turning point of the title race in February, when the team had a goal disallowed against Juventus because match officials failed to see that it had crossed the line.
Milan was leading 1-0 and in complete control when Sulley Muntari headed the ball well over the line in the Juve goal before Buffon clawed it away. Juve hit back in the second half to draw 1-1.
A few weeks later, Milan had another goal disallowed in similar circumstances at Catania, costing the team another two points after the game ended 1-1.