A brace from veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci earned Juventus a hard-fought 2-1 win over Venice in Serie A on Sunday to secure Champions League football for next season.
The host got off to a flying start in Turin when Luca Pellegrini launched an effort against the crossbar before Bonucci celebrated his 35th birthday with the opener in the seventh minute.
Bottom side Venezia, who sacked coach Paolo Zanetti in midweek, responded well and came close to a first-half equalizer but Thomas Henry’s header went just wide.
The visitor kept coming in the second half and got the equalizer he deserved when Mattia Aramu netted a shot into the net in the 71st minute, with the Juventus defenders arguing with each other in the aftermath.
With Juve running out of ideas up front, it was again left to Bonucci to bring home the winner from close range with 14 minutes remaining.
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The win helped Juve move within a point of Napoli in third and crucially 10 behind Lazio in fifth. Venezia remain bottom with 22 points, six from the safe zone.
It has been an overall disappointing season for Juventus after coach Massimiliano Allegri returned to take over as manager for the second time.
Serie A’s most successful side have struggled to keep pace with the league leaders this season, trailing AC Milan five points ahead of the top players’ clash with Fiorentina on Sunday – which is what the captain of the day Bonucci regrets.
“When I wear the armband, something more jumps out at me,” Bonucci said. DAZN. “When I wore it this year, I always tried to be an example.
“When you step onto the pitch with this jersey, you always aim for the highest goals. We have complicated our lives a bit because three or four more points (this season) would be enough to be on top, but it will serve as a lesson . for the future.”