MILAN: Two goals from Alessandro Del Piero, including an 85th minute winner, gave Serie A leaders Juventus a 2-1 victory over Brescia on Sunday to keep them right on track for their 27th league title.
With second-placed Inter Milan held to a 1-1 draw at home to Lazio, Juventus now have a lead of eight points with just four games remaining and it needs a vivid imagination to foresee a realistic way in which Marcello Lippi’s side could fail to retain their title.
After facing Lazio away next week, Juve’s final three games are at home to mid-table Perugia, away to lowly Reggina and at home to Chievo on the final day of the season.
If Juventus win at Lazio on Saturday and Inter lose or draw at Atalanta then Juventus would be crowned champions with three games to spare.
Third-placed AC Milan, who lost 2-1 at AS Roma on Saturday, are 12 points adrift of Juve and are left to focus on their Champions League semi-final ties with Inter.
Brescia certainly made Juventus fight for the three points though and the Turin side, weary from their midweek extra-time victory over Barcelona in Europe, never hit their stride.
Del Piero put Juve ahead in the ninth minute with a free-kick that took a deflection off the defensive wall and beat Brescia goalkeeper Matteo Sereni.
A single strike looked to be enough for Lippi’s men until Brescia’s Ghanaian midfielder Stephan Appiah equalised in the 83rd minute after being neatly set-up by former Juve striker Roberto Baggio.
A draw might have opened up the race for the scudetto but three minutes later Del Piero’s left-foot volley restored Juve's advantage.
Former European Player of the Year Baggio hit the crossbar and Juve’s Antonio Conte struck the post during the hectic final stages of the match.
Juve midfielder Edgar Davids said Brescia’s performance was a reminder that the Turin side will need to be alert right until the end of the season.
“Certainly we are close (to the title) but we have to give 100% to get three points from our last four matches otherwise things can get difficult,” said Davids.
In Milan, former Lazio forward Hernan Crespo put Inter ahead at the end of a lacklustre first half, heading in an Alvaro Recoba free-kick at the back post but Inter too looked to be paying for their midweek battle with Valencia in the Champions League.
Lazio upped the tempo after the break with Argentine Claudio Lopez forcing two good saves out of Inter goalkeeper Francesco Toldo and it was no real surprise when the Rome side drew level in the 77th minute when Simone Inzaghi headed in from a Massimo Oddo cross.
Lazio remain on course for the fourth Champions League qualification spot however as both their challengers were also unable to win.
Fifth-placed Parma were held to a 0-0 draw at lowly Reggina, while Chievo needed a goal four minutes into injury time from Ivano Della Morte to get a 1-1 draw at Bologna after Giuseppe Signori had opened the scoring in the second minute.
At the foot of the table, Piacenza’s fight against relegation was boosted by an impressive 5-1 win over fading Perugia. – Reuters