Football: Inzaghi hat-trick seals Italian title for Juventus as Inter lose at Bari

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The Independent Online
FILIPPO INZAGHI scored a hat-trick as Juventus beat Bologna 3-2 in a roller-coaster match in Turin yesterday to clinch their 25th Italian title.

Juventus entered the match with a four-point lead over their only championship rivals, Internazionale, and had to win at their Delle Alpi stadium to prevent the race for Serie A going to the final match of the season.

They fell behind after just 11 minutes to a goal from Igor Kolyvanov, who beat the Juve offside trap and slotted a low shot across Angelo Peruzzi into the bottom corner of the net.

Worse was to follow for the defending champions. News filtered through to a packed Delle Alpi stadium that, at the other end of the country, Inter were winning 1-0 at Bari thanks to a goal from Ronaldo. But on 36 minutes Inzaghi pulled Marcello Lippi's side level against a spirited Bologna side with a headed goal from a deep cross from Zinedine Zidane.

Inzaghi struck again four minutes after half-time and, with Zidane and Del Piero stretching the Bologna defence to breaking point, the title looked certain to stay in Turin. But Juventus had not counted on Roberto Baggio, back at the club where he spent five hugely successful seasons between 1990 and 1995. Ten minutes after the break the former Italy captain stole in on the left side of the Juve penalty area and, showing a surprising turn of pace, burst into the box and beat Peruzzi to level the scores.

Juventus continued to dominate in midfield and poured forward in search of a winner. A 2-2 draw and a victory for Inter would have taken the title race through to next Sunday, when Juventus face a difficult trip to Atalanta while Inter play Empoli at home.

With 10 minutes remaining Inzaghi finally found the goal which lifted the roof off the Delle Alpi stadium and sealed his side's third title in four years. It was unclear whether news of Inzaghi's late strike reached the Inter players on the pitch at Bari but, for whatever reason, Gigi Simoni's side capitulated in the final minutes of a match they had always controlled. First they conceded an equaliser, scored by Nicola Ventola, who next season will be an Inter player. Then, with the clock already past the 90-minute mark, the South African striker Phil Masinga grabbed a late winner for Bari.

Lens won the French title for the first time on Saturday, after an unbeaten run of eight league matches. They drew 1-1 away to Auxerre to snatch the league on goal difference from Metz, 1-0 winners at home to Lyon.

Lens fell behind after only 13 minutes when Auxerre's captain, Sabri Lamouchi, scored with a low shot from a pass by Stephane Guivarc'h. But the 22-year-old left-back Yohan Lachor became Lens' hero with a 53rd-minute equaliser from a crossfield pass by Frederic Dehu.