Juventus on verge of missing Champions League again

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The Independent Football

Juventus were left facing a second successive season without Champions League football after they were held 0-0 by Fiorentina while rivals Lazio thrashed Catania 4-1 away yesterday.

The two results left Juventus eight points adrift in Serie A of Lazio whose win made sure they would finish the weekend in fourth place, the last Champions League qualifying round berth.

Both teams have five matches left and Juventus, seventh with 52 points, will now have to concentrate on finishing fifth or sixth to qualify at least for the Europa League. Cesena moved out of the relegation places with a 1-0 win over bottom club Bari, sending Sampdoria, who were thrashed 3-0 by leaders Milan on Saturday, into the danger zone.

The Rossoneri took another big step towards the title by brushing aside Sampdoria while troubled champions Internazionale lost. Third-placed Inter are now eight points adrift of Milan with five games left after a shock 2-0 defeat at lowly Parma, meaning their hopes of a sixth straight scudetto are almost over.

Milan took the lead against beleaguered Samp through Clarence Seedorf on 20 minutes and striker Antonio Cassano sealed the win from the spot early in the second half after a contested handball before Robinho grabbed a third. Milan were without suspended striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic but still left Samp, fourth last term, deep in relegation trouble. Sampdoria's team bus was attacked with sticks and stones by the club's own supporters when it arrived back in Genoa. Media reports said windows of the bus were broken and players received death threats. "No sporting result, however negative, can justify actions like those which happened on the team's return from Milan," a club statement said.

Samp did well in Serie A last season but this campaign has been miserable and they are a point above the drop zone with five games left. Almost as soon as they had wrapped up fourth spot last May, coach Luigi del Neri quit for Juventus and they then lost a Champions League qualifier to Werder Bremen.

Top strike duo Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini left in January for Milan and Inter respectively after the former fell out with owner Riccardo Garrone and the latter was let go to raise funds. Inter, dumped out of the Champions League as holders by Schalke in the quarter-finals in midweek, suffered a hangover at Parma who boosted their survival hopes.

On-loan Juventus duo Sebastian Giovinco and Amauri did the damage against old rivals Inter, whose only real hope of a trophy this term now lies with the Italian Cup.

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