Football: Juventus win 31st Italian title

Juventus' players celebrate with their coach Massimiliano Allegri after winning the Italian title for the 31st time on Saturday. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Juventus' players celebrate with their coach Massimiliano Allegri after winning the Italian title for the 31st time on Saturday. -- PHOTO: AFP 

ROME (AFP) - Juventus won the Italian title for the 31st time on Saturday after Arturo Vidal’s first half strike saw Massimiliano Allegri’s side defeat Sampdoria 1-0.

It was Juventus’ fourth league title in a row with as many games to spare this season.

Chilean midfielder Vidal met Stephan Lichtsteiner’s deep floated cross with a perfectly placed header in the 32nd minute to put Juventus 17 points ahead of second-placed Lazio.

The Rome side travel to relegation-threatened Atalanta on Sunday with only 15 points available to them from their remaining five games.

Juve needed just a point to finally end the one-horse race for the Serie A crown.

Vidal’s first league goal since January was enough for them to both win the league and become the first side to win at Sampdoria this season despite resting Andrea Pirlo, Giorgio Chielini and Alvaro Morata ahead of their Champions League semi-final clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Beating Madrid would set this season out from the previous three title-winning campaigns, in which they underwhelmed in Europe, and would be further vindication for Allegri, who was panned by Juve fans when he was announced as the replacement for the beloved Antonio Conte in pre-season.

Sampdoria started the match in fifth place and are eyeing a spot in the Europa League, and the game got off to frantic start.

However, the best chance for the home side in the opening period was a long range shot from Pedro Obiang in the 10th minute that failed to trouble Gianluigi Buffon in the Juve goal.

Juve’s first clear sight of goal was Vidal’s winner, which he expertly flashed back across Sampdoria keeper Emiliano Viviano and off the post after racing on to a Lichtsteiner cross that evaded striker Fernando Llorente before arriving at the midfielder.

Sampdoria were full of heart and kept pressing the away side, but they lacked invention and struggled to break down Juve’s solid backline.

It was Tevez who nearly doubled Juve’s lead with a smart snap shot that was brilliantly tipped away by Viviano just before the hour mark.

Five minutes later Gonzalo Bergessio wasted Samp’s only decent chance of the night, when he dithered on the ball with only Buffon to beat and allowed Leonardo Bonucci to race back and block his goal-bound shot.

That was that from Samp as a serious attacking threat, and all that remained was for Juve to shut up shop and wait for the whistle that sparked somewhat muted celebrations among the players and staff, who already have one eye on Tuesday night’s date with destiny.