Italian titan Juventus claimed its staggering ninth straight Serie A title on Sunday, beating visiting Sampdoria 2-0 on goals by Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and second-half substitute Federico Bernardeschi.
The Turin-based club’s continued dominance of one of global soccer’s top leagues is unprecedented; the next longest winning streak in the Italian top flight’s 90-year history is five, accomplished by Juve way back in the 1930s and Inter Milan from 2006-10. Juventus’ crosstown rival Torino won five Italian titles in the mid- to late-1940s.
After the two teams were forced to make three substitutions in the opening half hour because of injury, Ronaldo opened the scoring in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United icon depositing the ball into the bottom corner of Sampdoria’s net off a clever cut-back from Miralem Pjanic’s free kick.
A brilliant set piece play allows Cristiano Ronaldo to register his 31st goal of the season ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/vDxcDacjKk— ESPN (@espn) July 26, 2020
Ronaldo had a golden opportunity to add his 32nd goal of the COVID-19-interrupted 2019-20 campaign after Bernardeschi made it 2-0 in the 67th minute, but his shot from the penalty spot caromed off the top of the crossbar to keep Sampdoria within striking distance.
But Juventus, which suffered a late 2-1 loss to Udinese in its last match, held on for its 36th all-time domestic championship, extending its own record. Coach Maurizio Sarri became the oldest manager to win the Serie A crown, his first.
But while Sarri and his players were all smiles after the final whistle blew, the 61-year-old former Napoli and Chelsea boss has to be worried about the two players forced off via injury in the first half, Danilo and Paulo Dybala, with next month’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg against French side Lyon looming next.
Juve lost the first match of the home-and-home, total goals series before the novel coronavirus crisis shut down the soccer world for more than three months. For all its domination at home, the club has not won Europe’s top club competition since 1996.
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