Empoli 4-1 Juventus: Bianconeri's top-four hopes dented as Caputo brace compounds points deduction

·3 min read
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Juventus' hopes of a top-four Serie A finish suffered a huge double blow as the Bianconeri were thrashed 4-1 at Empoli on the same day they received a 10-point deduction.

Moments before kick-off, Juve expressed "great bitterness" at the Italian Football Federation's decision to issue a new penalty over alleged transfer irregularities, putting them seventh in the table.

Massimiliano Allegri's side showed no signs of being fired up by that ruling, as Francesco Caputo's penalty and Sebastiano Luperto's powerful effort quickly put Empoli in control.

Caputo doubled up with a delicate finish after half-time and though Federico Chiesa pulled one back, Roberto Piccoli's stoppage-time strike compounded the visitors' misery and left them five points outside the top four with two games remaining.

Federico Gatti had the ball in the net after 14 minutes, prodding in the rebound after Arkadiusz Milik headed against the crossbar, but Bremer was adjudged to have fouled goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.

Empoli took full advantage of that escape four minutes later, Caputo drilling home from the spot after Milik clumsily tripped Nicolo Cambiaghi just inside the area.

The hosts only required a further three minutes to double their lead, Luperto smashing into the roof of the net from close range after Wojciech Szczesny denied Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro.

Juve missed huge chances to pull one back either side of half-time, Bremer and Dusan Vlahovic both blazing over the crossbar when unmarked inside the area.

Vlahovic's miss was swiftly punished as Caputo put the result beyond doubt after 48 minutes, lifting Akpa Akpro's square ball over Szczesny to complete his brace.

Chiesa gave Juve a faint glimmer of hope when he drilled a shot under Vicario with five minutes left, but Empoli restored their three-goal cushion in stoppage time as Piccoli fired into the bottom-left corner.

What does it mean? Blue Monday for Bianconeri

Last week, an extra-time defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals ensured Juventus will endure consecutive campaigns without silverware under Allegri, increasing the pressure on a coach who delivered five league titles during his first spell in Turin.

This week has not started any better. Juventus issued a statement acknowledging their points deduction just three minutes before kick-off, and their hopes of Champions League qualification were hanging by a thread within a further 25 minutes.

Even a spectacular Milan collapse looks unlikely to hand Juve a genuine shot at the top four, with the Bianconeri also lagging behind Atalanta and Roma.

Juventus capitulate 

When Juve were hit with a 15-point deduction in January – a penalty that was later suspended – they responded by taking charge of the top-four race with a strong run of league form.

The news of their latest punishment had a more adverse impact, with Juve shipping three goals in the first 47 minutes of a Serie A game for the first time since November 2016 (against Genoa).

Caputo at the double

Caputo was at the centre of everything positive Empoli did, leading his team-mates for shots (four), touches in the opposition box (five) and netting twice from 1.32 xG.

He now has 21 Serie A goals for Empoli across two spells with the club; only Massimo Maccarone (28) and Francesco Tavano (25) have more top-flight goals for the Azzurri.

What's next?

Juventus face a huge clash with Milan in their final home game of the Serie A season on Sunday, while Empoli visit relegation-threatened Hellas Verona on the same day.