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Monday May 5, 2014 MYT 6:37:39 AM
Monday May 5, 2014 MYT 6:37:39 AM
(Reuters) - Juventus won a third consecutive Serie A title without playing on Sunday when AS Roma, their only remaining challengers, lost 4-1 at lowly Catania on a weekend overshadowed by shootings before the Italian Cup final.
Juventus players celebrated their record 30th title in the guest house which the team uses as a pre-match retreat after watching Roma's dramatic collapse on television.
"It is the second time I’ve won a Scudetto without playing, as it happened about 10 years ago. It’s different, a special sensation, but still wonderful,” goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon told Mediaset.
"Of course I prefer the satisfaction of winning on the field and that moment the whistle blows and you have given everything you’ve got, both physical and psychological."
Defender Giorgio Chiellini added: "It was an incredible journey and we’re not finished as we want to become the first Serie A club to amass 100 points."
Juve's title, however, came on an awful weekend for Italian football thanks to the events before Saturday's Cup final between Napoli and Fiorentina in Rome.
Police said on Sunday they had arrested a 48-year-old Roma supporter, Daniele De Santis, for shooting and wounding three Napoli fans with a pistol.
The shootings preceded ugly scenes inside Rome's Olympic Stadium, where supporters threw flares and smoke bombs, delayed the start of the final and jeered the national anthem.
With so much else going on, AC Milan's 1-0 derby win over Inter, courtesy of a second-half header by Nigel de Jong, was reduced to a mere sideshow. Both teams are battling for a Europa League place with Inter fifth on 57 points and Milan eighth on 54.
Roma, who had bravely kept their challenge going by winning their last nine games, inexplicably produced one of their worst performances of the season against the Sicilian strugglers.
Mariano Izco stunned Roma by scoring twice in a six-minute spell in the first half and fellow Argentines Gonzalo Bergessio and Pablo Barrientos left Roma's title hopes in tatters after the break. Francesco Totti replied for Roma.
The defeat left Roma eight points behind Juventus, who host Atalanta on Monday (1900 GMT) with only two games left to play. Juventus have 93 points from 35 games, with Roma on 85 from 36 and third-placed Napoli 69 for 35. Next Sunday's match between Roma and Juventus, who could have been the game of the season, will now be little more than a friendly.
"We got everything wrong, the players and the coach," Roma coach Rudi Garcia told RAI television.
"We have seen the difference in motivation between the two sides. When it's not there, it's difficult to win.
"We left our game in the dressing room, there was no movement and we lost all the tackles," added the Frenchman.
Roma's moves repeatedly broke down in the last third of the field and one led to a Catania counter-attack which ended with Leto back-heeling the ball into the path of Izco, who slotted past Morgan De Sanctis in the 26th minute.
Six minutes later, Rodrigo Taddei misplaced a pass in midfield to set up another Catania counter which Izco finished off from a narrow angle.
Roma briefly came to life when 37-year-old stalwart Totti volleyed in from close range in the 37th minute and Gervinho was denied an equaliser by Alberto Frison just before the break.
Catania regained their two-goal lead in 56th minute when Leto's shot was saved by De Sanctis and Bergisso snapped up the rebound.
Barrientos completed the rout with an emphatic drive from the edge of the area.
Catania moved off the bottom and were replaced by Livorno who lost 5-3 at Udinese in a game in which seven of the goals came in an extraordinary first half.
Struggling Bologna drew 0-0 at Genoa in another result which favoured the Sicilians and Chievo were beaten 1-0 at home by Torino. Those results left Chievo in 16th with 30 points followed by Bologna (29), Sassuolo (28), Catania (26) and Livorno (25). The bottom three go down.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Justin Palmer and Toby Davis)
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