Juve’s Champions League at risk, Inter edge towards title despite Napoli draw

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021 00:00 |
Atalanta’s Italian midfielder Matteo Pessina (left) vies for the ball against Juventus’ Uruguayan midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur during their Italian Serie A match on April 18, 2021 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. Photo/AFP

Milan, Monday

Andrea Pirlo conceded Juventas missed Cristiano Ronaldo’s “killer instinct” as the Italian champions fell to their first league defeat in two decades to Atalanta on Sunday leaving their participation in next season’s Champions League at risk.

Leaders Inter Milan edged towards the Serie A title despite a 1-1 draw at Napoli, to pull 13 points ahead of Juventus who dropped to fourth place.

Christian Eriksen snatched a point for Inter whose 11-match winning streak ended but who hold a nine-point advantage on AC Milan as they target a first league title since 2010. 

Milan earlier got back winning in the San Siro after two months 2-1 against Genoa.

Juve’s nine-year reign as champions looks set to end with nine games left, and their European hopes are also at risk.

Substitute Ruslan Malinovskyi struck three minutes from time in Bergamo with a shot that took a deflection off Alex Sandro as Atalanta won 1-0 to move third.

Juventus were playing without injured Ronaldo, the top scorer in Serie A with 25 goals this campaign. 

“We knew it would be tough against Atalanta,” said Juve coach Andrea Pirlo.

“Ronaldo is our finisher, he adapts to these matches, because he’s a champion.

“He’s a penalty area killer. Today we had our chances, we didn’t use them and we were punished by an episode.”

Juve have failed to win any of the four matches they have played this season without 36-year-old Ronaldo.

But they held fourth spot two points ahead of Napoli whose six-match winning streak at home was stopped by Inter.

In Naples, top Inter scorer Romelu Lukaku rattled the woodwork either side of Napoli’s opener, an own-goal following a blunder from visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. -AFP

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