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Juve finish league season unbeaten

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ROME, Italy, May 13 – Juventus broke AC Milan’s record of 42 matches unbeaten and finished the entire league season undefeated with a 3-1 win over Atalanta on Sunday.

It was also the perfect send-off after 19 years with the Old Lady for club captain Alessandro Del Piero, who took the armband for the final time in a Serie A game in Juve’s colours and netted his team’s second goal.

Youngster Luca Marrone scored the opener and Andrea Barzagli netted a last-minute penalty as Juve finished the season with 84 points, four clear of last year’s champions Milan.

The only blips were a late own goal from Stephan Lichsteiner and an injury to centre-back Giorgio Chiellini that could put his Euro 2012 participation at risk.

The victory meant Juve took their unbeaten run in all competitions to 43 games, including the final match of last season, a record for an Italian team.

They also produced the first unbeaten Serie A campaign since Milan in 1992, and the first since Italy moved from an 18 to a 20-team league.

If they avoid defeat in next weekend’s Cup final they will become the first team to go an entire season unbeaten in league and cup, although they were helped by not playing in Europe.

Their clash with Atalanta was little more than a glorified friendly.

It was over within a half hour as Marco Borriello’s back-heel set up Morrone to blast home from an angle on 10 minutes.

Juve were guilty of trying too hard to set up Del Piero and Simone Padoin wasted a chance when he tried to play in his captain rather than shoot.

But Del Piero’s goal came on 28 minutes as he curled home expertly from outside the area.

The game descended into near farce in the second period when coach Antonio Conte decided to substitute Del Piero so he could receive a rapturous ovation from the fans.

He got that but the sight of a league match being held up for at least a couple of minutes to affect a substitution while all his team-mates joined him in the centre-circle to salute him seemed like a scene from a testimonial match.

With the game ongoing, he then embarked on a lap of honour to salute the fans.

Milan finished their season with a the perfect party scenario as 38-year-old Filippo Inzaghi scored the winner on his 300th and final appearance for the club before retiring in a 2-1 win over relegated Novara.

With popular stalwarts Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso and Alessandro Nesta all making their final bow in a Milan shirt, this match took time to come to life.

Gattuso captained the side but looked a shadow of his former self while the biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for Inzaghi’s entry from the bench.

Novara threatened to upset the party when Santiago Garcia found himself alone in the box to shoot home on 20 minutes.

Milan hit back through Mathieu Flamini from inside the box after Antonio Cassano’s clever pass on 56 minutes.

The rest of the match saw Milan desperately trying to set up Inzaghi to sign off with a goal, which duly came eight minutes from time, ensuring the party could start.

It was Inzaghi’s 156th goal in Serie A and just to top things off, it was fellow veteran Clarence Seedorf who played the pass.

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