Juventus’ push to remain in the Serie A title race remains alive after a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Cagliari on Sunday evening. This vital success also extended the Turin club’s impressive recent record against ‘Gli Isolani’ to 11 wins in their last 12 league meetings.
Favourites Juventus kicked off proceedings on the front foot, looking to right the wrongs of last week’s loss in the Derby d’Italia. However, it was Cagliari who opened the scoring in style after ten minutes, with a slick counter-attack seeing Răzvan Marin pick out João Pedro on the edge of the box, and the striker side-footed the ball into the top corner, setting the Sardegna Arena alight. ‘La Vecchia Signora’ responded well though, and Luca Pellegrini appeared to equalise with a fizzing shot from the edge of the box, but VAR officials spotted a handball in the build up.
Juventus finally broke through after knocking on Cagliari’s door for most of the half, when Juan Cuadrado chipped a ball to the back post for Matthijs de Ligt, who arrowed his header back across goal and into the side-netting to equalise on the stroke of HT. De Ligt’s centre-back partner Giorgio Chiellini then looked to have put Juventus ahead in the opening minutes of the second half, by redirecting a shot in from close range – but VAR struck again, and ruled the goal out, as the defender was offside upon making contact with the ball.
Despite being frustrated for most of the night, Juventus striker Dušan Vlahović finally broke down the stubborn Cagliari defence by scoring a scrappy goal from close range, after a searching ball into the box from Paulo Dybala. Although 15 minutes still remained at the time of the Bianconeri’s eventual winner, Cagliari had visibly run out of ideas against a fitter visiting team, and looked incapable of preventing a fifth straight loss.
While Juventus still harbour hopes of sneaking a 37th Italian top-flight title from almost nowhere, Cagliari inch ever-closer to relegation, owning what will be just a three-point overnight lead over the bottom three. On tonight’s evidence, that itself looks all the more vulnerable to evisceration, given that both Venezia and Genoa have at least a game in hand on Walter Mazzarri’s side.