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BC-SOC--Italian Roundup,1st Ld-Writethru

April 13, 2019
Associated Press

MILAN (AP) — Juventus will have to wait at least another round to secure a record-extending eighth straight Serie A title after its second-string team was beaten 2-1 at relegation-threatened Spal on Saturday.

Juventus only needed a point and seemed all but certain of that when teenager Moise Kean gave it the lead in the first half, but Kevin Bonifazi and Sergio Floccari scored after the break to keep the champagne on ice.

“We wanted to close it today,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “The boys’ performance was good and the young players competed with such authority ... Everyone did well, we’re only sorry for the defeat, but we paid for inexperience.”

It was a first top-flight win over Juventus for Spal which has gone through bankruptcy and been refounded twice — in 2005 and 2012.

Juventus remains 20 points above second-placed Napoli, which visits last-placed Chievo Verona on Sunday. There will then be six matches remaining and Juventus has the better head-to-head record, which is the tiebreaker in Italy.

With the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against Ajax on Tuesday — after a 1-1 away draw in the first leg — Allegri rested a number of players, including Cristiano Ronaldo. He also handed defender Paolo Gozzi, 17, his Serie A debut.

“If we had put all our starters in, it would have been easier to win it,” Allegri added. “But there is the goal to obtain on Tuesday.”

All appeared to be going to plan on Saturday when Kean stuck out a boot to divert Joao Cancelo’s shot into the opposite side of the net and past Spal goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano in the 30th minute.

Bonifazi headed in a corner at the near post four minutes into the second half, and that would still have been enough for Juventus to clinch the title, but Floccari scored the winner in the 74th off Alessandro Murgia’s cross.

Spal moved into 13th, seven points clear of the relegation zone.

AC Milan hosts Lazio later Saturday in a fight for a Champions League place. Roma, which is also chasing a top-four finish, hosts Udinese.


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