Serie A - Cagliari frustrate wasteful Juventus
Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw by Cagliari at home in Turin, putting the Bianconeri top of Serie A by one point until later on Sunday night at least.
Juventus pushed for a winner, bombarding the visiting goal late on, but poor misses by substitutes Alessandro Del Piero and Milos Krasic saw Cagliari survive, Antonio Conte’s side spurning the chance to move three points clear of Milan, who face Internazionale in a tantalising derby later.
The Sardinian side, meanwhile, stay in mid-table, on 22 points.
Juve showed their attacking intent from the off, with overlapping full-backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Paolo De Ceglie bounding forward at every available opportunity to support wingers Simone Pepe and Vucinic, who cut inside with regularity.
Their positive attitude was rewarded with an early goal as, in a glorious sweeping move, Claudio Marchisio picked out the advancing Lichtsteiner, who in turn fed Alessandro Matri: the ex-Cagliari forward could have shot himself but Juve’s team-spirit was evident as he slid a low pass across the face of goal for Vucinic to net a tap-in.
That was on seven minutes and there was another chance six minutes later when visiting defender Alessandro Agostini gave the ball away and Matri fizzed a low shot inches wide.
Perhaps it all came a touch too early for Juve though, as they appeared to rest on their laurels to let Cagliari work their way back into the game.
Former Bianconeri midfielder Albin Ekdal had a shot deflected just wide, Davide Astori fired wide when he should have left it for the waiting Victor Ibarbo, while the visitors had two penalty appeals rejected as Andrea Barzagli and Andrea Pirlo both appeared to handle in separate incidents.
It was by no means all Cagliari though as Pepe missed a glorious chance, heading Vucinic’s cross straight at Michael Agazzi, with Astori mimicking Bonucci as he almost knocked the ball past his own keeper, who was able to gather.
But Cagliari were deserving of an equaliser and they got one almost straight from the restart, and while it was ultimately a fine finish Bonucci must take the blame for some poor defending.
Initially he allowed Ibarbo to turn him far too easily, the Colombian going on a surging run towards goal. But he lost control of it and Bonucci had a chance to clear: instead he mis-kicked straight to Cossu, who fired a savage effort from 18 yards that flew inside the left-hand post for 1-1.
Cagliari were boosted and initially looked for a second goal, but Juve were also sparked back into action: they spurned a good chance to level when Matri dived after a good turn in the box, the shot and pass both options but the penalty more inviting as he elected to fake contact from an outstretched leg. He was booked, and Juve had few complaints.
Predictably the hosts continued to probe for a winner but Cagliari defended in numbers, with Astori and Michele Canini both putting in vital blocks as a succession of balls rained down in their box.
Juve threw on Del Piero and Krasic but the visitors’ resolve hardened and little of note was created until, with 10 minutes remaining, veteran striker Del Piero met a fantastic Pirlo free-kick with a close-range header that was too close to Agazzi, who did well to keep it out nonetheless.
There was a late debut for Marco Borriello – whose signing was greeted with protests by some Juve fans – and the hosts were boosted when five minutes added time were signalled.
But their lack of a cutting edge was highlighted by Agazzi’s second-half shift, which – a save from Del Piero aside – largely consisted of plucking high balls out of the air.
Still, deep into injury-time, there was time for Krasic to solidify his status as a Bianconeri outcast with a poor miss: Borriello played him one-on-one with a fine through-ball but the Serb scuffed his finish well wide.
And the final act was another Juve miss, although the finish was more difficult this time as a flying Arturo Vidal failed to keep his header down from De Ceglie’s fine cross.
That was it, Juve frustrated and missing out on a chance to move three points clear of Milan ahead of their derby with Inter on Sunday night.