DE­SIRE STILL BURNS

Al­le­gri wants tre­ble af­ter Ju­ven­tus’ record scud­etto

New Straits Times - - Sport -

JU­VEN­TUS coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri called on the Turin gi­ants to com­plete a his­toric tre­ble in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal af­ter se­cur­ing a third suc­ces­sive league and Cup dou­ble on Sun­day.

“This sea­son was much dif­fer­ent to last sea­son. Now, we have the dream of the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal, which you don’t get to play ev­ery year,” Al­le­gri said af­ter a 3-0 win over Cro­tone wrapped up a sixth straight Serie A ti­tle.

“It’s our sec­ond fi­nal in three years, so we have to con­grat­u­late every­one at the club. I’m happy to coach here, and we’ll soon sit down to talk about some ideas.

“But right now, the most im­por­tant thing is to play, and win, the fi­nal in Cardiff (against Real Madrid).”

First-half goals from Mario Mandzu­kic and Paulo Dy­bala, and a late header from Alex San­dro sealed a com­fort­able vic­tory to leave Juve four points clear of Roma with one game to play.

Mandzu­kic gave the hosts a 12th-minute lead when he met Juan Cuadrado’s cross at the back post to fire past Cro­tone goal­keeper Alex Cor­daz.

Croa­tia in­ter­na­tional Mandzu­kic, cel­e­brat­ing his 31st birth­day, al­most gave Juve a 2-0 lead be­fore Fabio Sam­pirisi toe-poked the ball away from the big for­ward as he teed up.

But the fans who packed out Juve’s sta­dium for their fi­nal home game of the cam­paign were not to be de­nied.

Dy­bala dou­bled the lead with a sump­tu­ous free-kick that curled into the top cor­ner to leave Cor­daz with no chance six min­utes be­fore half-time.

Look­ing for a win to boost their top-flight sur­vival hopes, Cro­tone came close to re­duc­ing the ar­rears on the stroke of half-time when Diego Fal­cinelli’s ef­fort de­flected off Me­hdi Be­na­tia and skimmed the roof of the net with Gian­luigi Buf­fon stranded.

But the Cal­abri­ans were never likely to deny Ju­ven­tus the wellde­served ti­tle cel­e­bra­tions that were put on hold last week when Roma stunned Al­le­gri’s men 3-1 at the Sta­dio Olimpico.

Juve bounced back from their de­feat in the cap­i­tal three days later with a 2-0 Ital­ian Cup fi­nal vic­tory over Lazio.

And their third con­sec­u­tive league and Cup dou­ble, also a record, was all but sealed seven min­utes from time when San­dro’s bul­let header pinged in off the un­der­side of the cross­bar, goal-line tech­nol­ogy con­firm­ing it had crossed the line de­spite the best ef­forts of Cor­daz.

With two legs of the tre­ble com­plete, Ju­ven­tus will try to de­throne 11-time Euro­pean kings Real Madrid in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in Cardiff on June 3 to ac­com­plish what no team in the club’s his­tory has ever achieved.

In­ter Mi­lan fi­nally awoke from a re­cent league slum­ber to claim their first win in nine games, al­though their 3-1 win over 10-man Lazio was too lit­tle too late as they lost out on the chance of qual­i­fy­ing for the Europa League.

In­ter’s last win was a 7-1 rout of Ata­lanta in mid-March, the Ner­az­zurri go­ing on to lose six in an eight-match win­less streak that saw coach Ste­fano Pi­oli sacked two weeks ago.

A team led by care­taker coach Ste­fano Vec­chi fi­nally turned on the style, af­ter Keita Balde’s 19th minute penalty for the hosts af­ter a foul on Felipe An­der­son to take a 2-1 lead at the break thanks to goals from Marco An­dreolli and a Wes­ley Hoedt own goal.

Eder, play­ing in place of in­jured cap­tain Mauro Icardi, fired In­ter’s third on 74 min­utes but the visi­tors spurned sev­eral chances to add to their tally when both Keita, on 66 min­utes, and Se­nad Lulic, on 78 min­utes, saw red for sec­ond book­able of­fences.

In­ter moved up one place to sev­enth, but are four points be­hind city ri­vals AC Mi­lan, in the fi­nal Europa League spot, with one game re­main­ing.

Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri

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