Milan (AFP) – Juventus closed in on a seventh straight Serie A title with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday, pulling six points clear of Napoli whose ambitions were dented by a goalless draw at AC Milan.
The champions could secure the 34th Scudetto in their history by next Sunday when Juventus and Napoli go head to head in a top-of-the-table clash in Turin.
Juventus would have to win on Wednesday at Crotone and Napoli lose at home against Udinese, while the champions would also have to win next Sunday’s game for the title to be decided.
Here are five talking points with six games to go in Serie A:
Donnarumma makes ‘save of century’
AC Milan’s Gianlugi Donnarumma marked the milestone of becoming the youngest player to play in 100 Serie A games with a wonder save in the dying seconds against Napoli which may well have sealed the title for Juventus.
“I don’t know whether my save was the one that handed the Scudetto to Juventus. I hope that Napoli go for it until the end but it certainly is one of the most beautiful I have made,” said the 19-year-old from Naples.
Afterwards Donnarumma was evasive about his future at the San Siro with Napoli’s Pepe Reina set to arrive in Milan in the summer. “I don’t know anything. My agent will work on it with the club.”
Coach Gennaro Gattuso said: “Only death worries me. I can’t understand where it is written that if Reina arrives, Gigio Donnarumma will leave. He has a contract with Milan and we love him.”
Napoli still believe
Napoli captain Marek Hamsik insisted his side “must keep believing” despite Juventus opening “a big lead” in the championship.
“There are still 18 points up for grabs,” the midfielder said as his team target a third title and first since 1990. “The gap between us and Juventus is getting big, but we must keep believing until it’s no longer mathematically possible.
“The draw against Milan leaves a bitter taste in our mouths, especially given how many chances we made compared to the Rossoneri. We must forget what happened at San Siro and focus on our next objective Udinese.”
‘Flash’ Costa’s killer hat-trick
Douglas Costa came on in the 44th minute to replace the injured Miralem Pjanic and transformed Juventus’s game against Sampdoria, providing the killer spark with all three assists.
“We all played a great match, not just myself,” said the 27-year-old ex-Bayern Munich winger. “We played united tonight which is what we needed after Real Madrid. We have to continue to play this well to achieve our goals because the league isn’t over yet.”
The player known as ‘The Flash’ set up Mario Mandzukic after just a minute on the pitch, then chipped a cross for Benedikt Hoewedes on the hour mark and, 15 minutes later, supplied a perfect pass for Sami Khedira.
Time ticking for Spalletti and Inter
Time is running out for Inter Milan in their bid for Champions League football next season after a goalless draw at Atalanta combined with Lazio and Roma’s stalemate in the Roman derby. Luciano Spalletti’s side stay fifth one point outside the elite European places occupied by the Romans, after also dropping points against Torino, and will need a win at home on Tuesday against Cagliari before tough games at home to Juventus and Lazio. With Lazio out of the Europa League a lot could depend on Roma’s Champions League semi-final tie against Liverpool. But another slip-up could prove fatal both for Inter and Spalletti’s job next season.
Diabate too late to save Benevento
Cheick Diabate’s arrival has come too late to save Benevento despite the Malian striker scoring his third consecutive brace, after previous efforts against Juventus and Verona, to make it seven goals in six games since joining the club on loan from Turkish side Osmanispor in February. “I would have liked to start the season with this squad,” said coach Roberto De Zerbi after the 2-2 draw against Sassuolo earned his side’s first ever away point. The club from Naples are 14 points from safety with just six games to play.