Juventus virtually secured their 29th Serie A title on Sunday with a 1-0 win over AC Milan, who saw their own bid for Champions League soccer next season suffer a blow.
A second-half Arturo Vidal penalty settled what was a less-than-inspiring performance from both sides and left the champions requiring just four points from their remaining five games to defend the Scudetto.
However, Juve could wrap up the title next week if they beat Torino at home and SSC Napoli lose away to bottom side Delfino Pescara 1936.
Juve’s 24th win of the campaign restored their 11-point lead on Napoli, who beat Cagliari 3-2 earlier on Sunday, and dented Milan’s push for the league’s runner-up spot, which offers direct qualification to next season’s Champions League.
Milan remain third, but are now seven points behind Napoli and, arguably more importantly, are just one point ahead of ACF Fiorentina, who have ambitions to snatch the third and final Champions League spot, albeit one which does not offer direct qualification.
Milan had been unbeaten since a 4-2 reverse away to AS Roma days before Christmas but, missing suspended striker Mario Balotelli, showed little threat against a Juve side at full strength and feeling little pressure.
Neither side really dominated and it took Vidal’s 57th-minute strike from the spot, following a foul on Ghanaian midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah by Milan keeper Marco Amelia, to settle the game.
Milan’s defeat largely benefited Napoli, who after missing a hatful of chances to settle the game early, cemented second spot after Lorenzo Insigne came off the bench to score an injury-time winner against Cagliari.
Milan’s defeat also embellished Fiorentina’s 4-3 win over a fiesty Torino, a win secured when Brazilian midfielder Romulo came off the bench to clinch a late winner for Vincenzo Montella’s side.
Fiorentina’s win was all the more crucial given that Roma, one of several teams chasing a Europa League place, dropped points in a 1-1 draw at home to bottom side Pescara.
In Sunday’s early match, veteran Tommaso Rocchi saved Inter’s blushes with a late strike that secured a 1-0 win over a resilient Parma.