Soccer

Champions-elect Juventus brush aside Atalanta

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The Canadian Press
5/5/2014 5:52:46 PM
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MILAN, Italy -- Juventus gave its fans celebrating a third successive Serie A title another reason to revel in Turin by beating Atalanta 1-0 on Monday.

Juventus clinched its 30th league title the day before when second-place Roma lost 4-1 at Catania.

There was little excitement on the pitch at Juventus Stadium until Simone Padoin scored against his former club to break the deadlock and keep Antonio Conte's side on course to become the first Serie A club to reach the 100-point barrier.

Juventus, which has won all 18 of its home matches, has 96 points, and it visits Roma on Sunday before ending the campaign at home to Cagliari.

The only worry for Juventus fans will be coach Antonio Conte hinting at a possible departure at the end of the season.

"I will speak with the club and we will make the right assessments," Conte said. "It has been three intense years, I have to thank the lads for what they have done. Even tonight they went out there with the desire to win. That mentality, which I have transmitted to the lads, is my greatest merit.

"It's not easy to improve on what we have done these past few years. I have to understand if I have the strength to continue ..."

Chances were few and far between before Padoin scored in the 72nd minute. The midfielder, who spent five years at Atalanta, drilled in a low shot off the inside of the left post after Carlos Tevez flicked on Paul Pogba's pass.

Tevez should have scored his 20th goal of the season with the last kick of the game but the Argentina striker fired wide of an empty net after being unselfishly set up by Fabio Quagliarella.

It mattered little, and the final whistle blew moments later to spark joyful scenes of celebration on the pitch and back in the dressing room.

"We have been celebrating for more than 24 hours," Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci said. "But we arrived on the pitch with the right attitude and continued our incredible run. Making Juve history isn't easy and the way we've done it is even harder. Juve hasn't won three successive league titles since the '30s, it was right to celebrate, and we're really enjoying the moment."

Earlier, Lazio scored a stoppage-time penalty to rescue a 3-3 draw at home to Hellas Verona as the clubs saw their Europa League hopes diminish.

The clubs are level on points, a point behind Parma and AC Milan, and two behind Torino, which occupies the last European spot.

Substitute Romulo thought he scored the winner for Verona seven minutes from time as he was left unmarked to tap home Emil Hallfredsson's cross with Lazio goalkeeper Etrit Berisha stranded.

But Lazio was awarded a penalty when Michelangelo Albertazzi clipped Miroslav Klose's heels.

Albertazzi was sent off, joining Lazio's Senad Lulic, who was shown a straight red card minutes earlier for an awful challenge on Juan Manuel Iturbe.

Stefano Mauri's penalty was saved by Rafael, but the Lazio captain fired the rebound into an empty net.

Verona twice fought back, with equalizers from Marquinho and Iturbe after goals from teenage forward Keita Balde and Lulic saw Lazio go in front twice.

Juventus celebrates (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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