With a 10-point deduction desperately harming their quest for Champions League football, Juventus needed nothing short of a miracle prior to tonight to dine out at Europe’s top table next season.
Regardless, Juventus were keen to take on mission impossible and started brightly in search of clawing back the gap on fourth-placed Milan, with a smart Mike Maignan stop denying Juan Cuadrado from firing Juve into an early lead.
Juventus were looking the likelier side to find a breakthrough, but when Moise Kean’s cut-back was blazed over by Angel Di Maria, there was a growing frustration inside the Allianz Arena about where a goal was going to come from.
The Juve faithful needn’t have worried, a goal did duly arrive, but not the way they’d have hoped. Davide Calabria did the heavy lifting in the build-up, delivering a wicked ball that Olivier Giroud rose highest to head home and hand the initiative to Milan.
Knowing they needed just a point to rubber stamp their top-four status, Milan’s focus after the break was clear, and that was in keeping the back door shut.
As much as the Rossoneri were keen to sit back and soak up pressure, Juventus weren’t offering much by way of attacking impetus to put their defence under any strain. Their misery was almost compounded too, but some wasteful finishing from Alexis Saelemaekers after he’d been freed by Giroud spared the hosts’ blushes and kept them in the game with 20 minutes remaining.
When Rafael Leao spurned a glorious opportunity to double Milan’s advantage with 10 minutes left on the clock, there was a growing sense that Juventus would get a chance, but whether they could take it or not remained to be seen.
A true clear-cut opportunity never arrived for Juve, with Adrien Rabiot’s header that drifted wide about as close as they came to a leveller as their Champions League pipe dream petered out in front of them.
Milan will be rubbing shoulders with Europe’s elite next season though, with their top-four finish now assured.