Juve beats Inter to keep alive CL bid, Atalanta qualifies
ROME (AP) — Juventus kept alive its Champions League qualification hopes by winning at Serie A champion Inter Milan 3-2 on Saturday, when Atalanta clinched a place in Europe’s premier competition.
Atalanta consolidated second place in the Italian league beating Genoa 4-3 and can no longer finish outside the top four.
Juan Cuadrado scored twice for Juventus, converting a clinching penalty kick in the 88th minute. Juventus rose to fourth ahead of its final game at Bologna next weekend.
Napoli, two points behind, still has two games to play.
Juventus will be hoping for a favor from Fiorentina against Napoli on Sunday.
Roma defeated city rival Lazio 2-0 in their derby with goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedro. Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi was sent off late.
Also, Spezia Calcio enjoyed a 4-1 win over visiting Torino.
ATALANTA’S BRILLIANT ACHIEVEMENT
Atalanta qualified for the Champions League for the third consecutive year despite a much smaller budget than its illustrious rivals.
Duvan Zapata got the visitors off to a fine start in the ninth minute and kept the ball in play to set up Ruslan Malinovskyi in the 26th. Robin Gosens made it 3-0 before the break.
Eldor Shomurodov pulled one back for Genoa, followed three minutes later by Mario Pasalic restoring Atalanta’s three-goal lead.
Gosens conceded a penalty for handball – converted by Goran Pandev in the 67th – and Shomurodov’s second goal in the 84th ensured a nervy finale, but Atalanta held on.
JUVE DIGS DEEP
Antonio Conte’s Inter squad had already ended Juventus’ record run of nine straight Serie A titles, and it could have ended his former team’s chances of reaching the Champions League.
Referee Gianpaolo Calvarese had a busy game, awarding three penalties and relying on VAR for assistance.
But there was no VAR check for the deciding penalty late on – awarded when Cuadrado fell after running into the retreating Ivan Perisic.
The first spot kick was awarded to Juventus through VAR, which showed Matteo Darmian holding back Giorgio Chiellini with his arm. Cristiano Ronaldo took his second chance from the rebound in the 24th after a poor first effort.
The Inter visitors equalized through another penalty, converted by Romelu Lukaku in the 35th, after Calvarese checked video replays that showed Lautaro Martinez falling under Matthijs de Ligt’s contact.
Cuadrado restored Juve’s lead with a deflected shot before the break.
Inter was given a boost in the 55th when Rodrigo Bentancur was sent off for his second yellow card for a foul on Lukaku.
Martinez thought he equalized with a spectacular overhead kick but the goal was ruled out for an apparent foul on the wily Chiellini. TV replays showed there was minimal contact from Lukaku.
Chiellini was again in the spotlight when he bundled the ball into his own net under pressure from Lukaku in the 83rd. Calvarese initially awarded the Italy defender a free kick, then showed him a yellow card and awarded the goal after checking replays.
Cuadrado fell, then stayed cool to keep Juventus’ qualification hopes alive with the decisive penalty.
Both sides finished with 10 men when Marcelo Brozovic was sent off with his second yellow card in injury time.
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