Ronaldo plays key role as Juventus wins 8th straight title

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Cristiano Ronaldo played a key role in the winning goal and Juventus beat Fiorentina 2-1 Saturday to clinch a record-extending eighth straight Serie A title.

It’s the first time in Europe’s five major leagues — Italy, England, Spain, Germany and France — that a club has won eight straight titles.

And it was a big relief for Juventus following its elimination by Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday, after failing to clinch last weekend with a surprise loss at Spal.

Juventus needed only a point but quickly fell behind when Nikola Milenkovic took advantage of confusion inside the Bianconeri area to score for Fiorentina six minutes in.

However, Alex Sandro headed in from a corner for the equalizer and Ronaldo’s cross from a sharp angle was then redirected in by Fiorentina defender German Pezzella either side of halftime.

“It was a very good first season and I adapted well. We won the ‘scudetto’ and the Italian Super Cup, which is certainly not easy to achieve,” Ronaldo said. “You can’t win all the time. We felt that we could do more … but only one side can win the Champions League.

“Next year is a new page, the fans all want it and so do we,” Ronaldo said of the Champions League, adding that he’s “1,000 percent” certain he will stay with Juventus for next season.

After the final whistle, Juventus players celebrated by forming a circle and jumping up and down clapping their hands. Then they drank champagne and some players invited their children out to take part in the festivities.

Juventus moved 20 points ahead of second-place Napoli, which has six games left.

It was Juventus’ 35th title overall. However, the jumbo screens inside Allianz Stadium flashed No. 37 to include the 2005 and 2006 titles that were stripped in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.

The only other club in the top five European leagues that had won seven straight was Lyon in France from 2002-08.

The Juventus women’s team also clinched the Italian title Saturday, with a 3-0 win at Hellas Verona in the final round of the season. It’s the second consecutive title for the women’s squad.

The men’s team had to come from behind, as Milenkovic’s goal was the earliest Juventus has conceded all season.

Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was lying on the ground in apparent pain following contact near the post when the ball bounced toward Milenkovic, who smashed it into the roof of the net.

Szczesny had his hand treated and had to stay attentive as Fiorentina kept on threatening with counterattacks.

Federico Chiesa, a reported transfer target for Juventus, hit the post from the edge of the area in the 34th.

Three minutes later, Sandro put Juventus in front. Since Sandro’s Serie A debut in 2015, the left back has been directly involved in 23 goals (10 goals and 13 assists) — more than any other defender in the Italian league.

Still, there were more moments of concern for Juventus as Chiesa hit the crossbar two minutes before the break.

Order was restored in the second half as Ronaldo aimed his cross toward Federico Bernardeschi and Pezzella turned it into his own net as he attempted to intercept the pass.

Szczesny preserved the advantage with a difficult save on Bryan Dabo in the 90th.

“Congratulations to Juve,” Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said. “They definitely didn’t win the league today. They earned it over the entire season.”

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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf