Juventus won their final home game of the season against Napoli in an atmosphere of celebration and tribute, yesterday.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side paraded the Coppa Italia before the game and were presented with the Serie A trophy after it, while their fans paid a moving tribute to the 39 people killed in the Heysel disaster 30 years ago this month.
Among all that, there was time for Roberto Pereyra, Stefano Sturaro and Simone Pepe to earn Juve a 3-1 win. David Lopez scored Napoli’s goal but the result left them relying on a Lazio slip-up if they are to qualify for the Champions League, and they also had Miguel Britos sent off in injury time.
Dries Mertens and Lopez had early efforts saved for Napoli but they fell behind in the 13th minute when Kingsley Coman threaded the ball through and Pereyra finished right-footed from just outside the six-yard box.
A flurry of activity just after the 20-minute mark saw Coman and Paul Pogba’s shots blocked for Juve while Mertens and Lopez were off target.
Pogba sent a free-kick just over before, with this the nearest Juve home game to next Friday’s Heysel anniversary, the home crowd honoured their fallen colleagues in the 39th minute.
Napoli’s equaliser came five minutes after the restart.
Kwadwo Asamoah conceded a penalty with a handball and though Lorenzo Insigne’s shot was saved, Lopez followed up to score.
Napoli went closer still in the 69th minute. The ball dropped to Lopez on the edge of the box and he clipped a volley goalwards, which was brilliantly saved one-handed by Gianluigi Buffon.
But Juve restored their lead when Sturaro turned superbly through the visiting defence and burst away at pace before finding the top corner, with even a slight deflection off Maggio unable to detract from the aesthetic pleasure of the goal.
Buffon almost blotted his copybook moments later when he failed to get to a Napoli corner and was lucky to see Lopez head wide.
Juve broke at speed after a free-kick and the referee played a good advantage when Coman was hacked down, but Morata’s poor cross saw the chance wasted.
Napoli’s match then ended acrimoniously as Britos head-butted Morata off the ball, earning himself a red card and conceding a penalty which Pepe stroked coolly down the middle for his first goal since April 2012 to spark further delighted celebrations.
In the other match, Juraj Kucka’s 89th-minute header lifted Genoa to a 3-2 win over Inter after the hosts twice hit back from a goal down.
With the game seemingly heading for a draw, Kucka sealed victory to dash Inter’s chances of European football next season.
Inter had earlier taken leads through Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio, but they were cancelled out quickly by Leonardo Pavoletti and Maxime Lestienne respectively.
Pereyra 13; Sturaro 77; Pepe 90 pen;
HT: 1-0. Att: 40,485.
Missed penalty: Mertens (N) 50
Red card: Britos (N) 90.
Pavoletti 24; Lestienne 41; Kucka 89;
Icardi 19; Palacio 30;
HT: 2-2. Att: 27,161.
Playing today – 15.00
Cesena vs Cagliari
Chievo vs Atalanta
Empoli vs Sampdoria - 12.30
Milan vs Torino - 20.45
Palermo vs Fiorentina
Parma vs Verona
Udinese vs Sassuolo
Lazio vs Roma - 18.00
20 goals: Icardi (Inter), Tevez (Juventus).
19 goals: Toni (Verona).
16 goals: Menez (Milan), Higuain (Napoli).
15 goals: Gabbiadini (Napoli).
14 goals: Berardi (Sassuolo), Di Natale (Udinese).
13 goals: Falque (Genoa), Dybala (Palermo), Quagliarella (Torino).
12 goals: Klose (Lazio).
Sunday (final programme)
20.45 Atalanta vs Milan; Cagliari vs Udinese; Fiorentina vs Chievo; Verona vs Juventus; Inter vs Empoli; Roma vs Palermo; Napoli vs Lazio; Sampdoria vs Parma; Sassuolo vs Genoa; Torino vs Cesena.
(Play-offs SFs, today’s first legs)
Reggiana vs Bassano Virtus - 18.00
Como vs Matera - 19.00
Second legs: May 31.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us