REUTERS - Juventus clinched their second successive Serie A title with three games to spare by beating Palermo 1-0 on Sunday, crowning a season which coach Antonio Conte described as a “triumphant march.”
Miroslav Klose hit five goals in Lazio’s 6-0 demolition of Bologna, Edinson Cavani’s hat-trick propelled second-placed Napoli to a 3-1 win over Inter and Pescara were relegated after only a season in the top flight.
Juventus, who won their eighth successive league game, have 83 points from 35 games, 11 clear of Napoli. Milan have 65 points and Fiorentina 61.
Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal, Juve’s leading scorer with 10 goals, wrapped up a record 29th title and the second in Conte’s two seasons at the club by converting a 59th-minute penalty amid Palermo protests after Mirko Vucinic was pushed by Massimo Donati.
Juve’s afternoon was dampened when midfielder Paul Pogba was sent off for spitting at Salvatore Aronica in the 84th minute following a clash between the pair.
A pitch invasion at the end, when hundreds of fans ran on to the field and forced the players into the dressing-room, poured more cold water on the celebrations.
“It’s been a triumphant march from every point of view,” said Conte, whose side have dominated the championship from start to finish.
“The difference from last year is that we had nothing to lose, whereas this time we were under an obligation to win because otherwise it would have been treated as a failure,” goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon told the Mediaset Premium channel.
“There was a lot of responsibility on our shoulders as it isn’t easy to win in that situation.”
Palermo’s defeat dropped them back into the relegation zone with 32 points, swapping places with Genoa who have 35 while Torino are on 36. Siena, 19th in the 20-team table, have 30 and Pescara 22.
Klose’s extraordinary performance for Lazio began when the 34-year-old Germany international opened the scoring in the 22nd minute although there were suspicions of offside.
Hernanes scored a brilliant second with a dipping 30-metre shot, then Klose grabbed two in three minutes to complete a first-half hat-trick, finishing off a counter-attack and then tapping in Abdoullay Konko’s pass at the far post.
Klose was allowed a free header from Antonio Candreva’s cross as he added a fourth goal early in the second half and he was again unmarked as he turned in a Sergio Floccari pass just after the hour.
Napoli’s win left move them closer to a Champions League group stage place.
Cavani turned in Goran Pandev’s cross to give Napoli a third-minute lead and, after Ricardo Alvarez had levelled with a penalty, put Napoli back in front before halftime with another spot kick.
The Uruguayan completed his hat-trick by converting another Pandev cross 12 minutes from time, taking his Serie A tally to 26.
Bottom club Pescara’s fate was sealed when they lost 4-1 at fellow strugglers Genoa with Marco Boriello scoring twice.
Antonio Di Natale scored a brilliant brace for Udinese, who beat Sampdoria 3-1, and Argentine forward Gonzalo Bergessio got a hat-trick to give Catania a 3-0 win over Siena, pushing their opponents closer to Serie B.
Di Natale’s second was a stunning effort as he ran on to a long ball and volleyed his shot over the oncoming Sergio Romero, his 20th goal of the season.
Third-placed AC Milan edged closer to the Champions League playoff spot when a late Mario Balotelli goal, his ninth since joining from Manchester City at the end of January, gave them a 1-0 win over Torino.
They moved four points clear of Fiorentina who lost 1-0 at home to AS Roma on Saturday.
Reporting By Brian Homewood; Editing by Clare Fallon and Alison Wildey