After relinquishing their Serie A crown to Inter last weekend, Juventus suffered a potentially disastrous 3-0 defeat to AC Milan at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday night, as the battle for Champions League qualification nears its conclusion.
Brahim Diaz edged the Rossoneri ahead at the end of a cagey first half, before substitute Ante Rebic and Fikayo Tomori secured the win lead late on, to move three points ahead of the Bianconeri and into third place. Crucially, the win also gives Milan the head-to-head advantage over the recently dethroned champions.
With Napoli brushing aside relegation threatened Spezia 4-1 and Atalanta hitting five against Serie B bound Parma earlier in Round 35 to strengthen their own respective positions behind Inter, sealing victory in Turin had become even more important to the pair.
During a first half disrupted by indiscipline, there were more screams of agony from Milan full-back Theo Hernandez than there were shots on goal for both sides combined. As the Frenchman began another ear-shattering call of foul play, Diaz collected the loose ball on the edge of the box, but a powerful low drive was sent straight into the arms of Bianconeri custodian Wojciech Szczesny.
The best opportunity of the opening period was nearly Giorgio Chiellini’s on 30 minutes, when Gianluigi Donnarumma misjudged the flight of a Juventus corner kick, only for the veteran defender to head well wide of the goal.
However, in injury-time another goalkeeping error broke the deadlock, Szczesny poorly clearing an incoming free-kick with a punch and Diaz eventually curling a wonderful right-footed effort into the top corner.
On 56 minutes, Diaz gave the Rossoneri the chance to extend their lead, when his shot hit the outstretched arm of Chiellini and VAR awarded a penalty, but Szczesny guessed right to save Franck Kessie’s spot kick.
Rather than deflate Milan, though, the miss and losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to injury shortly afterwards, seemed to galvanise the team, as they fought to withstand the attacking advances of an increasingly desperate Juventus.
The man who replaced the Swede, Rebic, was arguably a bigger threat when arriving from the bench. Harassing the Bianconeri defence and then curling a brilliant long range strike into the net.
While that goal appeared to end any hopes Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo had of turning the game around with his own changes, five minutes later, Tomori was rising highest to head home a free-kick for the third.
Milan now sit third in Serie A and level on point with Atalanta in second, with the two facing off in Bergamo on the final day of the season. Juventus stay fifth, one point behind Napoli in fourth.