Serie A: Juventus’ bid for eighth straight title delayed by Spal

Juventus only needed a point and seemed all but certain of that when teenager Moise Kean gave it the lead. REUTERS

Juventus will have to wait at least another day to secure a record-extending eighth straight Serie A title after its second-string team was beaten 2-1 at relegation-threatened Spal on Saturday.

Juventus only needed a point and seemed all but certain of that when teenager Moise Kean gave it the lead in the first half, but Kevin Bonifazi and Sergio Floccari scored after the break to keep the champagne on ice.

It was a first top-flight win over Juventus for Spal which has gone through bankruptcy and been refounded twice _ in 2005 and 2012.

“We wanted to close it today,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “The boys’ performance was good and the young players competed with such authority … Everyone did well, we’re only sorry for the defeat, but we paid for inexperience.”

Juventus remains 20 points above second-placed Napoli, which visits last-placed Chievo Verona on Sunday. Anything but a win for Napoli would hand Juventus the title.

There will then be six matches remaining and Juventus has the better head-to-head record, which is the tiebreaker in Italy.

With the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against Ajax on Tuesday _ after a 1-1 away draw in the first leg _ Allegri rested a number of players, including Cristiano Ronaldo. He also handed defender Paolo Gozzi, 17, his Serie A debut.

“If we had put all our starters in, it would have been easier to win it,” Allegri added. “But there is the goal to obtain on Tuesday.”

All appeared to be going to plan on Saturday when Kean stuck out a boot to divert Joao Cancelo’s shot into the opposite side of the net and past Spal goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano in the 30th minute.

Bonifazi headed in a corner at the near post four minutes into the second half, and that would still have been enough for Juventus to clinch the title, but Floccari scored the winner in the 74th off Alessandro Murgia’s cross.

Spal moved into 13th, seven points clear of the relegation zone.

TIGHT FIGHT

The title chase might be all but over but the race for Champions League places continues to get tighter.

Edin Dzeko scored his first goal at home in a year, following a fine flick from Stephan El Shaarawy, as Roma beat Udinese 1-0 to move into fourth spot. Dzeko’s previous seven goals this season had come away from the Stadio Olimpico.

Roma moved two points above AC Milan and Atalanta. Lazio is five points behind Roma but has played a match less than most of its rivals and visits Milan later Saturday.

Roma has a crucial match next week as it travels to third-placed Inter Milan.

Udinese remained four points above the bottom three.




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