Rome: The Serie A title chase has taken a surprising turn with only two rounds remaining, leaving Juventus with just a one-point lead over AC Milan.
Juventus looked set to keep their three-point lead intact until an error from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon handed 10-man Lecce a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
"It was like missing a score two metres from the goal," Juventus manager Antonio Conte said.
The error was all the more surprising coming from Buffon, one of the stand-outs of Italy's 2006 World Cup victory.
"Gigi is having an extraordinary season and he, like everyone else, has the strength and capacity to remain calm," Conte said. "We've used our bonus and now we must win our last two matches."
Unbeaten Juventus can still clinch their first title since before the 2006 match-fixing scandal if they win at Cagliari on Sunday and Milan don't beat Inter in a derby.
In the final round of matches on May 13, Juventus host Atalanta and Milan face Novara, who were relegated on Wednesday with a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina - a match marred by Fiorentina manager Delio Rossi physically attacking Adem Ljajic after the forward protested his first-half substitution.
As far as Conte sees it, Juventus have overachieved this season after finishing seventh the past two years. "We're in a place now where if you had asked us at the beginning of the season, we would have signed up for this a thousand times," he said.
For Milan, Buffon's error opened a ray of light in a title chase that seemed closed. Juve had won eight straight.
"Watching Juventus over the last eight matches, it seemed difficult to think they could have a misstep at home, but we're happy," Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri said. "Impossible things are the most beautiful things and you've always got to give your maximum to achieve them. We still haven't fully realized that we're just one point behind, but all I needed to see was how the guys reacted to Lecce's equalizer to see how much they believe."
However, Milan face a tricky match against city rivals Inter, who are battling for third place and the final Champions League berth.
"We're either going to give a favour to Juve or to Milan," Inter president Massimo Moratti said. "Which one would be better? They're both the same."
League officials have moved the Cagliari-Juve match to 8:45pm, so it will be played at the same time as the Milan derby.
"I've never understood the difference in playing early or late," Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said. "In the end, you need to win and that's all."
Napoli and Udinese are tied for third, although Napoli hold the tie-breaker with a better head-to-head record. Lazio are two points back and Inter are three points behind. Napoli visit Bologna, Udinese host Genoa and Lazio are at Atalanta.
Besides Novara, last-placed Cesena have also been relegated, with Genoa three points ahead of Lecce in the fight to avoid the last drop spot.
On Saturday, Lecce host Fiorentina, who will be coached by club manager Vincenzo Guerini for the final two matches after Rossi was fired for his actions — marking the 19th coaching change in the 20-team league this season.
Also on Saturday, Roma host Catania, with Roma acknowledging that manager Luis Enrique could step aside at the end of a disappointing first season under new American ownership.
In Sunday's other matches, it's - Siena vs Parma; Novara vs Cesena; and Palermo vs Chievo Verona.