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SPORTS

Juventus face wait to clinch title after shock defeat at Udinese

FOOTBALL By Reuters | July 24th 2020
Football - Serie A - Udinese v Juventus - Dacia Arena, Udine, Italy - July 23, 2020. Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo during the match. [REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini]

Juventus must wait to claim a ninth successive Serie A title after they slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat at lowly Udinese on Thursday after Seko Fofana scoring a stoppage-time winner with a solo goal.

Needing a victory to wrap up the title with three games to spare, Juve produced another strangely subdued performance but went ahead with a long-range shot by defender Matthijs de Ligt three minutes before halftime.

However, Ilija Nestorovski's diving header and Fofana's superb individual effort stunned the Turin side on a stifling evening.

Juventus, who have won only one of their last five games and have dropped 18 points from winning positions this season, stay on 80 points followed by Atalanta with 74 and Inter Milan on 73 with three games each to play.

Fourth-placed Lazio, who have four matches remaining starting against Cagliari later on Thursday, have 69 points. The win took Udinese up to 15th place on 39 points, seven points clear of the relegation zone.

It was the latest twist in an extraordinary title race which has seen three of the four contenders repeatedly drop points. Inter have won only two of their last six matches and Lazio had taken one point from a possible 15 before Thursday.

"We lost a bit of order," said Juve coach Maurizio Sarri. "We lost in the 93rd minute because we were trying to win at any cost. This season is difficult, all the teams are playing in conditions different to the usual ones and everyone is tired."

Atalanta's next match is at AC Milan on Friday while Inter visit Genoa on Saturday and Juve host Sampdoria on Sunday.

Juventus had a lucky escape when Danilo headed Ken Sema's cross against the post while Udinese's Bram Nuytinck was also spared embarrassment when his back pass almost trickled into the net but goalkeeper Juan Musso pushed it wide just in time.

Musso also did well to turn away a Paulo Dybala shot and Cristiano Ronaldo was close from long range before Juve broke the deadlock three minutes before halftime.

A Udinese clearance landed at the feet of De Ligt and the Dutchman took one touch and drove a low shot into the net from 25 metres.

However, Udinese found a deserved equaliser seven minutes after the restart. Sema swung a cross over to the far post where Nestorovski met it with a diving header which flew into the net.

Udinese defended doggedly before snatching the winner on the break. Ivorian Fofana collected a loose ball on the halfway line, charged forward, nutmegged De Ligt and slotted his shot under Wojciech Szczesny to give his side a memorable win.

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