Juve on brink of lifting Italian title

Agence France Presse

Rome, May 16:

Juventus moved to the brink of lifting their 28th Serie A title after they won at home to struggling Parma and championship rivals AC Milan were held away to Lecce.

Juve secured a 2-0 victory in Turin thanks to first-half headers from Alessandro Del Piero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Milan led twice only to draw 2-2 in Puglia where the home side played last 17 minutes with 10 men.

The results left Juventus five points clear of Champions League finalists Milan with just two games left. That means Juve could be crowned champions on Friday if Milan fail to win at home to Palermo.

Inter Milan secured third place for the season after their 1-0 home victory against Livorno, courtesy of a first-half strike by Christian Vieri, while the battle for fourth spot will go right down to the wire after Udinese and Sampdoria, who are level on points, played out a 1-1 draw. Brescia remain in the relegation zone despite winning 2-1 at Bologna, while Fiorentina dropped into the bottom three after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Atalanta.

Chievo boosted their hopes of surviving the drop by winning 1-0 at fellow strugglers Siena. The Rome derby between Roma and Lazio ended 0-0 and passed off peacefully with no trouble between rival fans.

Juventus enjoyed the perfect start against Parma, taking the lead in the sixth minute. Cesare Bovo brought down Del Piero 30 yards out and Mauro Camoranesi stepped up to take the free-kick. He crossed the ball towards the back post and Del Piero directed a firm header into the far corner. The home side doubled their advantage in the 23rd minute. Del Piero curled a right-wing corner to the edge of the six-yard box and Ibrahimovic headed powerfully past Sebastian Frey for his 16th league goal of the season.

Kakha Kaladze’s header put Milan ahead in the 13th minute at Lecce, only for Konan to level the scores a minute after the restart with a header from Alex Pinardi’s cross. Andriy Shevchenko restored Milan’s lead in the 53rd minute, prodding the ball home from close range after Lecce had failed to clear Vikash Dhorasoo’s cross.

Milan missed a hatful of chances to claim three points before Konan was sent off for an ugly challenge on Kaka. Playing a man down inspired Lecce rather than hinder them and they equalised eight minutes from time. Jaime Valdes broke down the right and his cutback found Mirko Vucinic unmarked and the Serbian striker side-footed home via Nelson Dida’s fingertips.