MILAN (Reuters) -Olivier Giroud secured Champions League qualification for AC Milan with the only goal in 1-0 win at troubled Juventus.
Giroud guided home a brilliant header from Davide Calabria’s cross in the 40th minute to guarantee Milan at least fourth place and complete Italy’s lineup in Europe’s top club competition next season.
It was the one moment of quality in an otherwise drab match in Turin in which little of consequence happened apart from Giroud’s 12th league goal of the season.
Stefano Pioli’s side, who were knocked out of this year’s Champions League in the semifinals by Inter Milan, joins local rival Lazio and champion Napoli on the continent’s big stage.
Milan is six points ahead of fifth-placed Atalanta with one match remaining of a season in which its title defense collapsed after the World Cup.
“This was the first time we truly tried to be competitive in two tournaments and we were lacking something,” said Pioli.
“We can enjoy the win and qualification, but it was a strange season for many reasons.”
Juve, meanwhile, stayed seventh and in the Europa Conference League spot after being deducted 10 points for illicit transfer activity by the Italian Football Federation last week.
Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve side can still reach the Europa League spots as it is one point behind Roma in sixth, although the specter of more punishment for financial irregularities hangs over the Turin giant.
Lecce ensured Serie A survival after late penalty drama gave it a 1-0 win over Monza, while a crushing late draw with Empoli took Verona’s survival battle to the final day.
Lorenzo Colombo rammed home the spot-kick which maintained Lecce’s Serie A status in the 11th minute of stoppage time after Christian Gytkjaer was penalized for handball following a VAR check.