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Zapata inflicts more pain on Juventus

Milan (AFP) – Duvan Zapata piled on the misery for struggling Juventus on Saturday with the only goal in Atalanta’s 1-0 win which came with the Turin giants still reeling from a police probe into their accounts.

Atalanta strengthened their hold on fourth place and Serie A’s final Champions League spot thanks to Colombian Zapata’s seventh goal in as many games in all competitions in the 28th minute at the Allianz Stadium, which he crashed home off the bar after being sent clean through by Berat Djimsiti.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are level on 28 points with third-placed Inter Milan ahead of the champions’ trip to Venezia later on Saturday, and just four away from leaders Napoli and AC Milan, who play on Sunday.

More importantly they are six points ahead of their closest rivals for fourth spot Roma, who host Torino, while Juve sit a further point back in eighth after the latest uninspiring display which led to them being whistled off by the pitch by furious fans who watched their team lose for the fifth time this league season.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side have only scored 18 goals in their 14 league matches, the lowest total in Serie A’s top 10, and rarely looked like pegging back the impressive away side until Paulo Dybala clipped a free-kick off the crossbar in stoppage time.

Their defeat comes after a difficult week in which they were humiliated by European champions Chelsea on Tuesday and then had police search their offices on Friday as part of a probe into suspicious player transfers and potential false accounting over the past three seasons.

According to Italian media, Juve and six of the club’s directors — including chairman Andrea Agnelli — are under investigation over what Sky Sport Italia report some 282 million euros ($319.2 million) of suspect capital gains from transfer deals.

– Transfer probe –

Last month the Italian Football Federation had launched a probe into the alleged inflating of the value of certain players for accounting purposes, or using player exchanges to help balance the books.

On Saturday news agency ANSA quoted a source from Serie A’s supervisory commission COVISOC as saying that investigations into the practice began in autumn last year and don’t just concern Juve — who are listed on the Italian stock exchange.

Dusan Vlahovic firing his way to the top of the Serie A scoring charts was not enough for Fiorentina on Saturday as Empoli came from behind late to snatch a 2-1 Tuscan derby win.

Serbia striker Vlahovic slid in his 11th league goal of the season after 56 minutes to move above Italy forward Ciro Immobile in the standings but the Viola threw away the win in the final few minutes.

Filippo Bandinelli rolled home his second Serie A goal following Nedim Bajrami’s cross with three minutes remaining and in the final seconds Andrea Pinamonti completed the turnaround from another Bajrami cross.

Vlahovic, who was under fire from Fiorentina fans earlier in the season for refusing to renew a contract which expires in June 2023, had his head in his hands in stoppage time when he failed to tap in from close range.

Vlahovic’s goal on Saturday was his 28th strike of 2021 in the Italian top flight but Fiorentina sit seventh, level on 21 points with struggling Juventus.

In Saturday’s other early match, Sampdoria came from behind to beat Verona 3-1.

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