FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) – Juventus ended a poor season on a disappointing note after losing 2-0 at Fiorentina in their final Serie A fixture of the campaign, with the hosts securing a place in next season’s Europa Conference League with the victory.
The three points ensured Fiorentina finished seventh, booking a return to continental competition for next season, while Juve end the campaign on 70 points in fourth, their lowest Serie A points return since 2010-11.
The visitors, who had already guaranteed a Champions League spot, struggled in the first half, failing to create any clear openings, with Fiorentina much the better side and taking a deserved lead through Alfred Duncan in first half stoppage time.
Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini, who failed to clear the ball in the run up to the opener, did not appear for the second half, watching on from the sidelines for the remainder of his 561st and final appearance for the club in all competitions.
Dusan Vlahovic’s introduction off the bench, to a cacophony of boos from supporters who have not forgiven the Serbian striker for leaving Florence to join Juve in January, failed to change things as the visitors continued to lack potency.
Fiorentina were always in control but made sure of a crucial win in stoppage time as Nicolas Gonzalez converted a penalty to end Juve’s faint hopes of salvaging something.
The flat performance summed up Juve’s season, as they finished the match without having had a single shot, on or off target. Coach Massimiliano Allegri now faces an important few months in his attempts to transform the Turin club’s fortunes.
“We played with 12 players for three months,” Allegri said. “These 70 points are false, they don’t tell the truth about the team. But it is true something is missing.
“We have not finished the year strongly, now we are thinking quickly about next year.”
Elsewhere in Serie A on Saturday, Atalanta missed out on qualification for Europe for the first time in six seasons as they lost 1-0 at home to Empoli to finish eighth, while fifth-placed Lazio played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Hellas Verona.
AS Roma wrapped up their first Serie A season under Jose Mourinho by securing Europa League qualification with a 3-0 win at Torino on Friday thanks to a double by Tammy Abraham and a late third from Lorenzo Pellegrini as they ended up sixth.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris and Martyn Herman)