- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

MILAN (AP) - His appointment protested against, coach Massimiliano Allegri won over any last doubters as Juventus clinched a fourth successive Serie A title on Saturday with four matches to spare and a treble in sight.

Juventus was rocked when Antonio Conte quit in the offseason, and further stunned when he was replaced by Allegri, who was fired by AC Milan months earlier and appeared to be the antithesis of the beloved former coach.

However, the Italian giant won 1-0 at Sampdoria on Saturday to claim the first of potentially three trophies as it faces Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals, and Lazio in the Italian Cup final.

After dominating the entire season, Juventus needed just a point to mathematically seal a 31st Serie A title. A first-half header from Arturo Vidal gave it all three.

“The first days here were good. I only had five or six players and we lost a friendly against Lucento!” Allegri said with laugh. “Afterwards, the lads were at my disposal and I tried to create a group, we started to work without ruining the work done in three extraordinary years.

“The players have great human qualities as well as technical ones, as to win four consecutive scudetti is extraordinary. Now we have to put this crazy evening to one side and think of the cups. I thank everyone who has helped me on this path, from the staff, to the club, to the players.”

Allegri was also the last coach before Conte to win the league, with Milan in 2011 - also in his first season in charge. Andrea Pirlo was part of that team, and has now won his fifth successive Serie A.

Although the title was never really in doubt, the relief and joy at the final whistle was clear, although the club has put its trophy celebrations on ice with a crucial Champions League match in just three days.

Vidal, who also scored in a 1-0 win against Palermo which clinched the league in 2013, admitted he had “never seen a title celebrated so little.”

“They gave us 10 minutes,” Juventus captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said.

“Also because the thought of Real is pulsating through us. Our joy is inevitable, also because we have sealed it as soon as possible, allowing us to dedicate our body and soul to this challenge.”

Buffon admitted the change of manager was difficult for the players as well as the fans.

“This title has a particular taste for me, for the group too,” he said. “It’s the proof that the squad has a very exceptional mentality, a spirit of self-sacrifice which I don’t think has an equal.

“Certainly, when we changed coach in July many people, including us, could have had doubts, but it was also a push to show that we also had an important worth, on a human level as well as technical.”

The defeat was Sampdoria’s first at home this season and left it provisionally fifth.

Juventus knew even if second-place Lazio was to beat Atalanta on Sunday, a draw at Sampdoria would leave it 12 points clear with four matches remaining and the better head-to-head record.

Allegri rested key playmaker Pirlo, defender Giorgio Chiellini, and forward Alvaro Morata ahead of Tuesday’s semifinal at home to Real Madrid.

Sampdoria had the better of the early opportunities, but Vidal broke the deadlock in 32nd as he was left unmarked to head Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross from the right over goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano and in off the inside of the far post.

In 34 rounds, Juventus has 24 victories, seven draws, and only three losses, scoring 64 goals and conceding just 19.

Elsewhere, Sassuolo moved a point closer to mathematically securing its Serie A survival with a 0-0 draw against Palermo, lifting it provisionally 13 points from the relegation zone.


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