29 titles? It's 31, insists defiant Juventus

Story highlights

  • Sunday's win over Palermo gives Juventus a 29th Italian league title
  • Club and its fans celebrate with flags and signs denoting "31"
  • Turin side still refusing to accept loss of two titles in match-fixing scandal
  • Dutch club Ajax clinches third successive league title and 32nd overall

The sea of signs and flags held with defiant pride may have said "31" -- but the history books will note that Juventus clinched a record-extending 29th Italian league title Sunday, with three matches to spare.

The "Calciopoli" match-fixing scandal which saw the club stripped of its 2005 and 2006 scudettos and relegated to Serie B still looms large in the history of the "Old Lady" of Turin, but successes in the last two seasons have restored Juve's fortunes as Italy's top football team.

"It wasn't easy for us to reclaim our title this year," said coach Antonio Conte after the 1-0 win over Palermo that ended the hopes of second-placed Napoli and prompted Juve fans to invade the pitch at the Alps stadium to get keepsakes of the day, with some even cutting up the goal nets.

Conte has had his own problems, having missed the start of this season after being banned for failing to report an instance of match-fixing while he was the coach of Siena -- the 10-month punishment was later reduced to four on appeal, and he returned to the touchline in December.

"Starting out as favorites doesn't do you any favors and we knew that the Champions League would take it out of us on a physical level," said the 43-year-old, whose team reached the quarterfinals of Europe's top club competition.

Is Juventus 'unsinkable'?
Is Juventus 'unsinkable'?


    Is Juventus 'unsinkable'?


Is Juventus 'unsinkable'? 01:42
Juventus president: 'Proud' of ourselves
Juventus president: 'Proud' of ourselves


    Juventus president: 'Proud' of ourselves


Juventus president: 'Proud' of ourselves 03:27
Del Piero's Juventus love affair
Del Piero's Juventus love affair


    Del Piero's Juventus love affair


Del Piero's Juventus love affair 03:56

"However, we've had a triumphant charge to the title, sealing the achievement with three games to spare. The defeat against Inter gave us greater hunger but the loss against Sampdoria affected me even more, I promised it wouldn't happen again and stayed true to my word.

"I dreamt of returning and winning here and that's precisely what has happened. I'm in the right place. We've achieved extraordinary things over the past few years, but you always need to raise the bar in football, taking into account the economic difficulties that Italian football is experiencing.

"So it's only right that I sit down with the club at the end of the season to plan for the future. I'll always be grateful to (president) Andrea Agnelli and owe him a great deal, and that's why I want the situation to be clear. But I want to stay here."

Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal scored the goal that clinched title, netting from the penalty spot after an hour following a foul by Massimo Donati on striker Mirko Vucinic.

It was his 10th Serie A goal this season, and 15th overall, making him Juve's top scorer.

The victory, which came despite the 83rd-minute red card to Paul Pogba, put Juve 14 points clear of Napoli, who then beat Inter Milan 3-1 later Sunday to reduce the deficit again.

Edinson Cavani netted a hat-trick to pass 100 goals for Napoli and extend his league-leading tally to 26 this season, while eighth-placed Inter look likely to miss out on European football next season.

AC Milan went four points clear in the battle for third place, beating Torino 1-0 thanks to an 84th-minute goal from striker Mario Balotelli to capitalize on Fiorentina's defeat to fifth-placed Roma on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ajax clinched a third successive Dutch league title on Sunday, beating bottom club Willem II Tilburg 5-0 to earn a 32nd Eredivisie crown overall with one match to play.

Coach Frank de Boer emulated the feats of Rinus Michels (1966-68) and Louis van Gaal (1994-96) in winning a treble of titles, having also won five as a player.

It kept Ajax four points clear of second-placed PSV Eindhoven, who beat NEC Nijmegen 4-2.

Paris Saint-Germain's bid for a first French title since 1994 faltered with a 1-1 draw against Valenciennes that left the capital club seven points clear with three matches to play.

PSG had key defender Thiago Silva sent off after Gael Danic put the midtable visitors ahead, but Brazilian Alex netted a late equalizer.

Marseille had earlier ensured PSG could not wrap up the title this weekend by beating Bastia 2-1 on Saturday.

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