Tue, May 03, 2016 - Page 19 News List

Juve celebrate as Milan’s hopes fade

TALE OF TWO CITIES:While Juve crowned a fifth straight ‘scudetto’ with a 2-0 win, AC Milan’s Europa League hopes were dented as they were held 3-3 by Frosinone

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Mario Mandzukic of Juventus, left, vies for the ball with Carpi’s Isaac Cofie in their Serie A match at Juventus Stadium in Turin, Italy, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Coach Massimiliano Allegri watched Juventus celebrate winning a fifth consecutive title in Turin as his former club AC Milan slipped into the Serie A doldrums and further out of contention for a place in Europe.

Brazilian midfielder Hernanes hit his maiden goal for Juve to give the hosts a halftime lead over Carpi, but it took until Simone Zaza’s 80th-minute strike, after he had replaced Alvaro Morata, for the title celebrations to really begin.

Juventus, 15 points ahead of second-placed SSC Napoli before they hosted Atalanta BC yesterday, had secured a record-equaling fifth consecutive Serie A crown on Monday last week when AS Roma defeated Napoli 1-0 in the capital.

After a week of celebrations, it was far from sterling stuff from the Turin giants, but Allegri said: “It wasn’t a great game, but the tension had dropped off a little following our title celebrations last week.

“Now it’s important for us to keep our focus with a view on the Coppa Italia final against Milan,” he said.

Allegri now has three Serie A titles on his coaching resume having steered AC Milan to the scudetto in 2010-2011, only to be sacked by the seven-time European champions following a 4-3 defeat to US Sassuolo in January 2014.

In hindsight, it was probably the best thing to have happened to the 48-year-old coach, who led the Vecchia Signora to a first UEFA Champions League final in 12 years in 2014-2015 and stands on the verge of a second consecutive league and cup double.

Milan host Juventus in the Coppa Italia final on May 28 and going on Sunday’s respective performances the Turin giants will be odds-on to defend their trophy.

Crisis-hit AC Milan hit a new low by dropping to seventh after fighting back from 3-1 down to secure a 3-3 draw with Frosinone at the San Siro in Milan.

Milan, who sacked coach Sinisa Mihajlovic three weeks ago and replaced the popular Serbian with youth team coach Cristian Brocchi, are now even further out of contention for a place in next season’s UEFA Europa League — a short order for a team that once rubbed shoulders with the giants of Europe.

US Sassuolo, 1-0 winners against relegated Hellas Verona, replaced Milan in sixth place, which will be awarded a Europa League spot if Juventus, already qualified for the UEFA Champions League, beat Milan in the Coppa Italia final.

Sassuolo coach Eusebio di Francesco even had the gall to warn: “We’ve always been chasing Milan and sometimes those in pursuit are at an advantage. Now we have to focus on our next two games, they will be decisive.”

After a draw with relegation-haunted Carpi and a shock defeat to basement side Verona, Milan were looking to make amends, but frustrated fans largely stayed at home amid reports club owner Silvio Berlusconi is on the verge of selling a majority stake to a Chinese consortium and their decision was largely vindicated.

Luca Paganini beat goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma from the edge of the penalty area after two minutes and Frosinone doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime when Oliver Kragl’s free-kick beat Donnarumma at the near post.

Balotelli’s penalty was parried by Francesco Bardi just after halftime, although Carlos Bacca reduced the arrears minutes later. Although Federico Dionisi pounced on Alex’s error to put the visitors 3-1 up, Luca Antonelli came off the bench to score an overhead-kick with his first touch on 74 minutes.

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