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Tuesday May 6, 2014 MYT 7:03:48 AM
Tuesday May 6, 2014 MYT 7:03:48 AM
by terry daley
ROME (Reuters) - The Juventus fans were in a mood to party and their team lived up to expectations as they celebrated winning a third successive Serie A title with a 1-0 victory over Atalanta on Monday.
A second-half Simone Padoin strike enabled the champions to enjoy the moment in front of their supporters by maintaining their 100 per cent home record.
Antonio Conte's side, handed their 30th championship thanks to AS Roma's 4-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Catania on Sunday, are on 96 points, 11 ahead of Roma and only a point away from equalling the all-time record set by Inter Milan in 2007.
“Winning the league three times in a row after finishing seventh twice and making a bit of a mark in Europe, with a quarter-final finish the Champions League and the semi-finals of the Europa League... I don't think Juventus could have done any better,” Conte told Sky Italia.
“Tonight is the latest confirmation of what my team is made of, both as a team and as men. I think my greatest satisfaction in is having transmitted a exceptional mentality.”
Padion's powerful 72nd-minute strike which careered in off the post following a nifty flick from Paul Pogba secured Juve's 18th straight home league win and they only have to beat Cagliari to finish the season unbeaten at the Juventus Stadium.
Conte made eight changes to the side which failed to overturn a 2-1 deficit in their Europa League semi-final with Benfica and they were rarely troubled by an Atalanta team who stayed in 11th on 47 points and now have no chance of European football.
Stefan Colantuono's Atalanta are eight points behind sixth-placed Torino with two games remaining after losing four of their last five matches, falling away dramatically after winning six in a row in March.
They are also six behind Lazio and Hellas Verona, who are still in the Europa league hunt after playing out an entertaining 3-3 draw featuring a red card for each side as Verona fought back from 2-1 to lead 3-2 through goals from Iturbe and Romulo.
However, Lazio captain Stefano Mauri scored a soft-looking stoppage-time penalty given for a foul on Miroslav Klose by Michelangelo Albertazzi, who was sent off, to snatch his side a dramatic and controversial late point and enrage Verona.
“It’s horrible to stop dreaming because of a refereeing error,” said Verona director Sean Sogliano.
“I want to see if that would ever happen to a big club... Perhaps in Italy they don’t like fairytales.
“Don’t worry, we will go back to challenging for positions in the table that suit us, that way we won’t irritate people any more.”
Juve started as though they were in no mood to party and failed to create much in the opening minutes bar a looping Pablo Osvaldo header in the 26th minute that was well tipped over by Atalanta keeper Andrea Consigli.
It was Atalanta who came closest to opening the scoring seconds earlier, with Stephan Lichtsteiner having to lunge in with a risky last-ditch tackle to stop Giacomo Bonaventura smashing in from close range at the second attempt after a neat pass from Cristian Raimondi.
Little happened after that until Carlos Tevez brought the match to life as a 65th-minute substitute for the disappointing Osvaldo, and almost immediately after the Argentine's entrance Consigli was forced into two smart saves from Fabio Quagliarella and Pogba snap shots.
But it was down to bit-part player Padoin's drilled shot to secure a win which had almost become a sideshow for the Juve supporters celebrating their all-conquering side's richly deserved 30th league title.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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