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05 May 2013

Juventus clinch Scudetto number 31!

Arturo Vidal’s second-half penalty enables the Bianconeri to see off Palermo and confirm their second successive Serie A title with three games to spare

Juventus crowned an extraordinary 2012/13 campaign by clinching their 31st Scudetto with this afternoon’s 1-0 victory over Palermo in front of a jubilant capacity crowd at Juventus Stadium.

A combination of stubborn defending and Stefano Sorrentino’s heroics in the visitors’ goal meant Antonio Conte’s men were forced to wait until the hour-mark before open the scoring, with Arturo Vidal’s well-taken penalty sparking rapturous celebrations among the Bianconeri faithful.

The final whistle brought scenes of delirium on the faces of those in the black and white stripes, whose dedication and commitment throughout a thrilling season has enabled them to see off nearest challengers Napoli and overcome the final hurdle with three games to spare.     

Juventus, who fielded the same starting line-up for the fifth game in succession, did most of the running in the early stages, with Andrea Pirlo enjoying plenty of room to pull the strings in midfield and Kwadwo Asamoah drawing the crowd’s appreciation with some penetrating runs in behind opposite number Tomar Nelson.   

But for all the crisp passing and intelligent football on display, it was often the final ball that eluded the hosts as Palermo, battling to preserve their top-flight status, defended deep and with due discipline.

Vidal, presented with April’s player of the month award shortly before kick-off, had a chance to open the scoring when the ball broke in his favour on the edge of the box with 15 minutes played, only for the Chilean midfielder to drag his half-volleyed attempt wide of target.

Pirlo was next to go in search of the opener, shrugging off the attentions of Jasmin Kurtic with a neat turn outside the area before firing in a left-footed strike which passed over the crossbar on 22 minutes.

The Bianconeri, by now firmly entrenched inside the opposition’s final third, produced their most promising chance of the half when Mirko Vucinic latched on to Stephan Lichtsteiner’s slide-rule delivery into the box just shy of the half-hour mark. The Montenegrin held off the challenge of Massimo Donati but found Rosanero custodian Sorrentino equal to his low drive from a narrow angle.

Despite maintaining their grip on proceedings at the start of the second period, Conte’s men were almost caught cold when Fabrizio Miccoli’s shot clipped off Giorgio Chiellini and bounced back off the post with Gigi Buffon beaten.

But with normal service resumed and the Bianconeri looking increasingly threatening, Donati’s nudge on Vucinic in the penalty area presented Vidal with the opportunity to break the deadlock from 12 yards. The Chilean seized the moment with both hands, sending Sorrentino the wrong way to take his personal tally to five goals in the last four outings.

Buoyed by shattering Palermo’s resistance, Juventus continued to stream forward and only the heroics of Sorrentino prevented Vidal’s well-struck effort from extending the lead on 68 minutes.  

Sensing the moment of celebration had arrived, supporters inside a rapturous Juventus Stadium began to hold their flags and banners aloft in tribute to the extraordinary achievements of Conte’s men.

And the volume inside a deafening arena was almost raised a notch when substitute Fabio Quagliarella crashed a venomous effort off the crossbar with ten minutes remaining.

Andrea Romeo’s final whistle saw the newly-crowned Champions of Italy congratulate each other as a flag depicting “31” was unfurled around the centre circle to get the party started in style…  

JUVENTUS 1-0 PALERMO

GOALS: Vidal (pen) 59

JUVENTUS

Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner (Padoin 56), Pogba, Pirlo, Vidal, Asamoah (Peluso 66); Marchisio; Vucinic (Quagliarella 79).

Substitutes not used: Storari, Caceres, Marrone, De Ceglie, Isla, Giaccherini, Giovinco, Matri, Quagliarella, Bendtner.

Manager: Conte

PALERMO

Sorrentino; Von Bergen, Donati, Aronica; Nelson, Barreto, Rios (Faurlin 79), Kurtic, Garcia; Ilicic (Dybala 71), Miccoli (Hernandez 65).

Substitutes not used: Benussi, Brichetto, Muñoz, Anselmo, Viola, Dossena, Fabbrini, Formica, Boselli.

Manager: Sannino

REFEREE: Romeo

ASSISTANTS: Stefani. Padovan

FOURTH OFFICIAL: Grilli

BOOKINGS: Barzagli 42, Vidal 59

SENT OFF: Pogba 83