ROME: Juventus lost 4-1 at Empoli on Monday hours after their points reduction for illicit transfer activity was revised in a blow to their Champions League hopes. The Turin giants are a point below sixth-placed Roma in the Europa League Conference qualification spot. Earlier, the Italian Football Federation’s (FIGC) appeals court announced Juve’s 10-point deduction. The decision came following a revision of their initial 15-point penalty inflicted on the club over illicit transfer activity.
“Finding yourself with 10 points down a quarter of an hour from the match is at least a mitigating factor,” Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri told reporters. “It’s been a very tiring year,” he added. It caps a difficult few days for the two-time European champions as they were knocked out of the Europa League semi-finals after defeat at Sevilla on Thursday. With two league games of the season remaining, Juve, on 59 points, can still catch AC Milan, on 64, in the fourth and final Champions League berth, with the teams meeting in Turin on Sunday.
In Empoli, the hosts’ 36-year-old striker Francesco Caputo scored either side of Sebastiano Luperto’s 21st-minute strike for the side in 14th place. Italy’s Federico Chiesa claimed an 85th-minute consolation for the visitors who play mid-table Udinese as well as Milan before the end of the campaign. With three minutes of added time played the home side rubbed salt into Juve’s wounds as 22-year-old Roberto Piccoli scored his second goal of the season.
The decision by the FIGC and the result at Empoli also mean that Lazio, who replaced Juve in second place, have qualified for the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2020 and only the second time since 2007. Earlier on Monday, at the Stadio Olimpico, Nemanja Matic scored an 83rd-minute equaliser as Roma drew 2-2 with Salernitana. “It’s a joke knowing this with two games to play,” Roma boss Jose Mourinho told reporters. “For us, for everyone, even for Juve.” “It wasn’t easy for them, points won on the pitch which were then taken away two rounds from the end of the season,” he added. — AFP