Champions League chasers Juve and Bologna held to bore draws

Juventus and Bologna were both were held to goalless draws on Saturday as the Serie A clubs’ bids for Champions League football were slowed by Torino and Monza.

A Turin derby stalemate and Bologna dropping points for the second straight week left third-placed Juve four points ahead of Bologna on an uneventful evening in Italy’s top flight.

Italian clubs’ good performances in Europe this season means Serie A is almost guaranteed an extra place in next year’s revamped version of the continent’s top club competition.

That should ensure that Juve will return to the European elite come September. They are 13 points ahead of Atalanta who are sixth and face Verona on Monday night.

However, Massimiliano Allegri’s side have won just twice in their last 11 matches and are 19 points behind champions-elect Inter Milan after being title challengers in January.

“We haven’t obtained our goals yet… it’s a football goal for those of us involved with the team but an economic one for the club,” said Allegri, whose team missed out on European football due to a points deduction last year.

“If you have three or four chances in the first half and don’t take them, in particular against a Torino side that has the fourth best defensive record in Serie A, it becomes difficult.”

Juve did not do enough to win their city derby but Dusan Vlahovic should have scored in the sixth minute when he struck the post from point-blank range after great work down the right from Federico Chiesa.

Vlahovic was also denied by a smart stop from Vanja Milinkovic-Savic just after the hour mark, while Duvan Zapata netted seconds after half-time for Torino only for his goal to be ruled out for Raoul Bellanova’s foul on Filip Kostic.

Torino stay ninth after Saturday’s stalemate, five points behind Atalanta and the Europa Conference League place.

Bologna are trying for a first-ever spot in the Champions League, although they played one round in the old European Cup in 1964, the same year that they most recently won Serie A.

Roma, in fifth and fresh from a first-leg win over AC Milan in the Europa League quarter-finals, can move a point behind Bologna with a win at Udinese on Sunday.

Earlier, Nicola Sansone’s late strike gave Lecce a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Empoli.

Sansone rolled the decisive goal into an empty net with a minute remaining in southern Italy, moving Lecce up to 13th and six points above the drop zone.


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