Seko Foafna champ delays Juventus title celebrations
Seko Fofana scored the winner as Juventus fell to a stun 2-1 defeat at battling Udinese on Thursday to miss the opportunity to seal the Serie A title for the ninth time in succession.
Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt had put the defending champions ahead three minutes before the break in Udine.
Be that as it may, a diving Ilija Nestorovski header seven minutes after the span got Udinese level, with Fofana finishing a rebound for the north-eastern side in injury time.
Juventus stay six points in front of second-placed Atalanta with three games left to play, and get another opportunity to seal the title for the 36th time on the pitch at home against 14th-placed Sampdoria on Sunday.
Maurizio Sarri’s side need only three additional points and the coronation could even come on Saturday, contingent upon the aftereffects of their adversaries Atalanta and Inter Milan, who play AC Milan and Genoa respectively.
“We paid for a lack of order after a good first half because we wanted to win at all costs,” said Sarri.
“In this way we took the game to a dangerous level, and after the 90th minute, we lost it.”
The coach continued: “In this period we are physically and mentally tired.”
Juventus’ presentation against the minnows from Udine, near the border with Slovenia, was stressing in front of their crunch Champions League last 16 game against Lyon on August 7.
“At the moment I am not thinking about the Champions League, in my mind there is only Sampdoria,” added Sarri.
The game began with an clumsy header from Danilo, which nearly brought about an own objective before skipping off Wojciech Szczesny’s post.
Udinese keeper Juan Musso denied Paulo Dybala – who was wearing the Juventus captain’s armband – following 13 minutes with Cristiano Ronaldo’s long-range effort wide before De Ligt got through, smashing in after 42 minutes.
Back after the break, Nestorovski took advantage of an Alex Sandro mistake to even out, getting his head to a cross from on-loan Watford midfielder Ken Sema to beat Szczesny.
Furthermore, two minutes into stoppage time, Ivorian international Fofana capped a strong match by showing signs of improvement of De Ligt to everything except guarantee Udinese of remaining in Serie A with his third goal this season.
It was a valuable three points for Udinese who move up to fifteenth position, seven points away from the relegation zone.
“Juventus wanted to win the championship, but we had a great game,” said Fofana.
“We said beforehand that (relegation rivals) Lecce were going strong and we had to push forward.”
Lazio originated from an goal down to defeat Cagliari 2-1 to move to within a point of third-placed Inter Milan.
Sergey Milinkovic-Savic got Lazio once more into the game soon after the break with Ciro Immobile associating with a Luis Alberto cross for the champ following an hour in Sardinia.
It was Immobile’s 31st goalthis season and moves the Italian back in front of Ronaldo in the fight for the top Serie A scorer this season.
Simone Inzaghi’s side finished their five-match winless run with a triumph which leaves them with a slim possibility of winning the title, as they sit eight points behind Juventus.
The Roman club are, in any case, guaranteed of playing in the Champions League next season.