Juventus clinches 29th Serie A title
MILAN (AP) -- Juventus clinched its second successive Serie A title on Sunday with a controversial 1-0 win over Palermo to secure the team's 29th league crown with three rounds remaining.
Arturo Vidal gave Juventus the lead shortly before the hour mark, firing home a debatable penalty after Massimo Donati was adjudged to have pushed over Mirko Vucinic.
The goal sparked great celebration among the home fans, who had been momentarily silenced when Palermo captain Fabrizio Miccoli hit the post.
"It has been a triumphant march to the title,'' Juventus coach Antonio Conte said. "We are happy and proud. The credit goes to the lads, they have been extraordinary for the whole season. I am proud of them, it wasn't easy to win another title.
"The Champions League took a lot of important energy, but the squad has been exceptional in every aspect. I will never stop thanking them, the lads are the real architects of this title. I also thank the club and my staff, who were there especially at the beginning when I was banned.''
Juventus' Paul Pogba was sent off seven minutes from time for spitting at Salvatore Aronica.
Juventus remained 11 points clear of Napoli, which later beat Inter Milan 3-1 thanks to a hat trick by Edinson Cavani. The Uruguay striker took his tally to 101 goals for Napoli.
It is Conte's second title in as many years as Juventus coach and helps put the club's darkest period even further behind it.
Juventus last won back-to-back titles in 2005 and `06 but was then stripped of both and relegated to Serie B in a wide-ranging match-fixing scandal that rocked Italian football.
The fans and club still count those two titles and after the final whistle a giant banner was unfurled in the center circle with the number 31.
Players and staff also celebrated with "31'' flags amid a pitch invasion at the Juventus Stadium. The players were forced to move their party to the locker room as supporters continued streaming onto the pitch, ripping up pieces of turf and even pulling down the goal nets in their bid for a souvenir.
Meanwhile, AC Milan moved a step closer to securing a Champions League berth after a late goal from Mario Balotelli gave it a 1-0 win over Torino. It is four points ahead of fourth-placed Fiorentina, which lost 1-0 against Roma on Saturday.
Balotelli has scored 12 goals in 13 games for club and country in 2013 since his move from Manchester City.
With a better head-to-head record over Napoli, Juventus needed only a point to secure the title. It dominated the first half but struggled to carve out clear goalscoring opportunities.
Juventus' best chance came in the 28th minute when Palermo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino did well to turn Vucinic's shot around his post.
Vidal also went close when his strike went just wide of the left post.
Palermo almost stunned Juventus by taking the lead early in the second half but Miccoli's diagonal effort crashed off the base of the left post.
Juventus took the lead when Donati barged Vucinic in the back as the Juventus striker was trying to chest down a ball from Pogba.
Vidal stepped up and fired into the bottom left corner.
He immediately ran over to the stands to hug teammate Simone Pepe, who has missed almost the entire season with injury.
Vucinic almost doubled Juventus' lead when he volleyed Pogba's cross towards goal only to be denied by Sorrentino.
Palermo came close to scoring an equalizer when Abel Hernandez's shot flashed just wide of the left upright.
"It's a huge weight off our shoulders, a responsibility we've had from the start of the season,'' Juventus captian Gianluigi Buffon said after winning his sixth Serie A title with the club. "When you're favorites and expected to win, it's only yours to lose. We did well.
"I've really enjoyed this particular Scudetto triumph, we've shown our group spirit right from the first match. We never put a foot wrong when it counted and in recent matches, we took the decisive steps by winning difficult games that were anything but guaranteed victories.''
Palermo is three points off safety after Genoa condemned bottom club Pescara to Serie B with a 4-1 victory.
Siena is two points further back after a Gonzalo Bergessio hat trick gave Catania a 3-0 win.
Siena defender Felipe was sent off shortly before halftime after he slipped and handled the ball on the ground, and was judged to have prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Udinese beat Sampdoria 3-1 as a double from captain Antonio Di Natale helped it to a fifth successive win and kept alive its hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
It is the fourth successive year the striker has scored 20 league goals.
Eder had leveled for Sampdoria after Di Natale opened the scoring.
The striker's second gave Udinese the lead before Sampdoria striker Gianluca Sansone hit the post.
Luis Muriel sealed the match following a howler from Sergio Romero. The Samp goalkeeper passed straight to Muriel, who fired into the bottom left corner to seal a fifth consecutive victory.
Udinese remained sixth, a point below Roma and four ahead of Inter.
Lazio remained two points behind Udinese after Miroslav Klose scored five to help it beat Bologna 6-0.
Klose is the first Lazio player to score five in a Serie A match and the first to do so in Italy since 1986.
Hernanes scored Lazio's other goal.
Parma beat Atalanta 2-0 with goals from Marco Parolo and Jonathan Biabiany.