Juventus missed out on the chance to win the Serie A title tonight with a drab 2-1 defeat at Udinese.
Everything was poised for the champions to take the three points they needed from the Stadio Friuli, where they hadn’t lost since 2010, but late drama ensured they wait for the trophy goes on.
Ever since the Old Lady wrestled back control of the Scudetto from AC Milan in 2012, the Turin-based club haven’t looked back with one of the most dominant runs in European football history.
Juventus pull away from the pack
And just as Juventus looked to have wrestled back control of the title race after the restart, their form wavered with the concession of 2-0 leads against AC Milan and Sassuolo.
However, despite jangling the nerves of fans with two draws and a defeat in three games, the champions showed their grit when it mattered most with a crucial 2-1 win over Lazio.
Combine that with Inter Milan’s failure to find the back of the net against Fiorentina and Juventus had the chance to make it nine in a row against Udinese on Thursday night.
De Ligt opens the scoring vs Udinese
But in spite of Udinese’s struggle in the bottom half of the table this season, they weren’t prepared to just lay down and roll out the red carpet for their fellow northern Italians.
In fact, it wasn’t until the stroke of half-time that Juventus made the breakthrough and it came from an unlikely source with Matthijs de Ligt bagging his fourth goal for the club.
The ball broke to the Dutchman on the edge of the penalty and although he didn’t strike it clearly, he made a good enough connection to direct his strike into the bottom corner.
Udinese fight back
However, there was a sting the tail for the league leaders as Udinese drew level after the break and it came from a header that Cristiano Ronaldo himself would have been proud of.
Ilija Nestorovski met an inviting cross from the left-hand side with a stunning diving header to find the far corner, leaving Wojciech Szczesny with absolutely no chance.
Juventus score later winner
However, there was heart-break from the would-be champions in stoppage time when a pass intended for Ronaldo was intercepted and teed up a rapid Udinese counterattack.
The ball eventually found its way to Seko Fofana, who went on an unorthodox solo run from his own half that culminated in a nutmeg on De Ligt and a calm finish past Szcesny one-on-one.
Check out the killer moment down below:
Nevertheless, the shock result still leaves the title race in Juve’s hands as they command a six-point lead over Lazio with three games to play, but their late-season form hasn’t exactly been inspiring.
Two draws and two defeats is seeing Sarri’s men limp towards a piece of silverware that, in truth, has become a question of how convincingly they secure it as opposed to whether they will or not over the last 10 years.
For now, Juventus’ wait for that ninth consecutive league title will have to go on…
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