Football: Juve secure title, Milan end long wait for derby win

Juventus' coach Antonio Conte celebrates with players at the end of the Italian Serie A football match Genoa Vs Juventus on March 16, 2014 at Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa. -- PHOTO: AFP
Juventus' coach Antonio Conte celebrates with players at the end of the Italian Serie A football match Genoa Vs Juventus on March 16, 2014 at Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa. -- PHOTO: AFP

MILAN (AFP) - Juventus secured the 2014 Serie A title with three games to spare on Sunday after closest challengers Roma were stunned 4-1 away to relegation-haunted Catania.

It is the Turin giants’ 30th official title in Italy’s top flight and third in succession under coach Antonio Conte.

Juventus remain on course to become the first team in Serie A to finish with at least 100 points.

After hosting Atalanta on Monday, Juve travel to Roma next week and close out the season at home to Cagliari.

Juventus had congregated at a hotel in Turin on Sunday afternoon to watch Roma’s upset on television and immediately after the final whistle the celebrations began.

“We are the champions, we are the champions,” read a post from the club’s official Twitter feed alongside pictures of the players dressed in identical black t-shirts making reference to the club’s belief they have won 32 titles.

Juventus were stripped of two Serie A titles, which they won in 2005 and 2006, following their demotion to Serie B for their role in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.

“After the five-title winning streak, this is a feat that no other great Juve sides had achieved,” Juve coach Antonio Conte said.

Club CEO Beppe Marotta heaped praise on the 44-year-old coach: “We said and knew that it would be a difficult season, but we were able to count on a superb coach and team who had great hunger and motivation to achieve this third title.”

Roma had emerged as Juve’s only real challengers this season after setting a new Serie A record of 10 opening wins under French coach Rudi Garcia.

But despite the capital club clinging to Juve’s heels in recent weeks and Garcia remaining defiant, the Roma boss on Saturday finally conceded defeat to Juventus.

“The championship is over. Tomorrow’s (Sunday’s) result at Catania won’t change a thing, but we’ll still be going there looking to win,” said Garcia.

After a testing season trying to keep pace with the Juve juggernaut, which went on a 22-match unbeaten run following a shock 4-2 away defeat to Fiorentina in their eighth match of the season, Garcia’s words appeared to have a soporific effect.

Roma were 2-0 down inside 34 minutes thanks to a brace from Mariano Izco. Despite Francesco Totti reducing the arrears three minutes later, further goals from Gonzalo Bergessio and Pablo Barrientos humiliated Roma.

Garcia was perplexed, and said: “The only thing I did right was saying the title race was over.” Roma will host Juve next week at the Olympic Stadium, where ugly scenes were played out at the Italian Cup final between Fiorentina and Napoli on Saturday.

The Frenchman added: “Next week must be a festival of football, for Roma to show we’re happy and proud of what we’ve achieved this season.” Elsewhere, Torino and Parma boosted their hopes of European football next season with 1-0 and 2-0 wins over Chievo and Sampdoria respectively.

Torino’s win in Verona kept them in sixth place, the last possible spot offering a Europa League place via the Italian Cup.

Napoli, who are virtually qualified for the Champions League, won the Cup on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Fiorentina, who are already virtually assured of a place in the Europa League.

Torino hold a one-point lead over Parma, who moved up to seventh, and a three-point cushion on Lazio and Verona, who face each other on Monday.

AC Milan moved back into Europa League contention after shading a tight Milan derby in which a second-half header from Nigel De Jong gave them a 1-0 win over Inter.

It was Milan’s first derby success over their city rivals since April 2011, when coach Clarence Seedorf still played at the club, to move up to provisional eighth, one point behind Torino in the first Europa League qualifying spot, ahead of Verona’s visit to Lazio on Monday.

Earlier, veteran Udinese striker Antonio Di Natale hit a brace in a 5-3 home win over Livorno, who dropped to bottom spot with Catania moving the other way.

Livorno have 25 points, one, three and four points fewer, respectively, than fellow-relegation candidates Catania, Sassuolo and Bologna.