Sports

Juve Held By Atalanta In Six-goal Thriller After Points Deduction

Juventus played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Atalanta in their first match since being slapped with a massive points deduction for illicit transfer activity, Roma taking their place in Serie A’s Champions League positions following a 2-0 win at Spezia.

Italy’s biggest football club were rocked on Friday by the Italian Football Federation’s decision to dock them 15 points after ruling they had managed capital gains from transfers to artificially benefit their accounts.

That decision, which leaves them ninth in Italy’s top flight on 23 points, drew howls of disapproval from Juve fans at the Allianz Stadium before a hugely entertaining encounter and was blasted as “unjust and unequal” by CEO Maurizio Scanavino pre-match.

But the the team showed fight to twice come back from going behind to Ademola Lookman goals to draw an exciting encounter, with Danilo’s drive midway through the second half eventually earning his team a point.

Juve are 14 points from the Champions League positions, a bad situation for a club whose last accounts were nearly 240 million euros in the red and have various bodies examining their financial conduct.

“I think we’d need 71 points to get into the Champions League… We need to look at the reality who how things are,” said coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Juventus had been leading at half-time when Angel Di Maria’s 25th-minute penalty cancelled out Lookman’s early opener before Arkadiusz Milik’s superb volley nine minutes later.

But the hosts were rocked again when Nigeria forward Lookman sent Joakim Maehle through to level seconds after the break.

Lookman then thumped home a perfect header in the 53rd minute to take his tally in his debut Serie A season to 11 before Danilo made sure both teams would share the spoils and leave Atalanta in fifth place.

“We’re in a good position now but there’s a long way to go…. this is a very strange season and we don’t know what will happen,” said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

“I don’t like it when the table changes during the season, it should be done at the start or the end, otherwise you haven’t got credibility.”

– Roma in top four –
Roma are fourth, level on 37 points with Inter who host Empoli on Monday and just one behind second-placed AC Milan ahead of the champions’ trip on Tuesday to take on Lazio, who will move above Jose Mourinho’s side into the top four with a win.

They came away with the three points at Spezia despite the absence of Italy international Nicolo Zaniolo, who refused to be picked in the matchday squad and was openly criticised by the club’s general manager Tiago Pinto pre-match.

Pinto said of Zaniolo that “personal interests have been put ahead of the collective good” with over a week remaining in the winter transfer window, adding that “it’s not the first time this has happened”.

Mourinho then confirmed that the 23-year-old is looking for a way out of the club but isn’t convinced the Italy international will succeed.

“He wants to leave but that doesn’t mean he will. The offers currently on the table aren’t worthy of either him or the club,” Mourinho told DAZN.

Zaniolo was key to Roma’s Conference League triumph last season but wants to leave after a poor campaign in the Eternal City in which he has been overshadowed by Paulo Dybala as the clear star of Mourinho’s team.

Spezia are 15th on 18 points, one ahead of Sassuolo who sit just above the relegation zone following their 1-1 draw at Monza earlier on Sunday.

Sassuolo are edging ever closer to the bottom three as Verona won for the second time since Marco Zaffaroni took over during the World Cup break on Saturday to move to within five points of safety.

Their point at the U-Power Stadium made survival even harder for Sampdoria, who fell to a 1-0 home defeat to Udinese following Kingsley Ehizibue’s strike with two minutes remaining.

AFP

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