Serie A - Resilient Cagliari deny Juventus record points haul

Serie A, Juventus Stadium - Juventus 1 (Vucinic 61) Cagliari 1 (Ibarbo 12)

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Serie A - Resilient Cagliari deny Juventus record points haul
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Juventus' Arturo Vidal (L) jumps for the ball with Luca Rossettini of Cagliari during their Serie A game at the Juventus stadium in Turin May 11, 2013 (Reuters)

A stubborn Cagliari side held Juventus to a 1-1 draw at the Juventus Stadium in Serie A.

An abject first-half Juventus performance was punished as early as the 12th minute when Víctor Ibarbo scored a tremendous solo goal.

The hosts toiled in search of an equaliser but were a blunted attacking force for much of the first period and a vastly improved second-half performance could not herald the win.

Mirko Vucinic drew his side level within ten minutes of his introduction as a second-half substitute but the Rossoblu held firm to take a point.

Antonio Conte was without suspended midfield duo Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba for the final home game of another successful season.

The visitors welcomed back Mauricio Pinilla from suspension while Albin Ekdal started against his former employers as Ivo Pulga’s men attempted to prevent the Bianconeri from moving to within two points of their own Serie A record points haul.

Considering the Bianconeri were within touching distance of history, the flat nature of their approach to the game was of some surprise and the Rossoblu punished their collective malaise with just over ten minutes on the clock.

Ibarbo, who had skewed an effort wide of the target minutes earlier, collected the ball on the edge of his own box from a Juve corner before galloping the length of the pitch and holding off challenges from both Andrea Barzagli and Claudio Marchisio before slotting under Marco Storari.

The concession of the goal jolted the successive Scudetto winners in search of an immediate riposte but it was a fleeting response as they struggled for any sort of urgency – with the absence of Pirlo limiting their ability to set the tempo.

Sebastian Giovinco, the only player not beset by the inertia that marked the champions first-half play, ran the channels well but all too often was not offered the required support to really threaten the goal of Michael Agazzi.

It was the diminutive forward who did in fact come closest to restoring parity but his dipping, curling free-kick came back off the bar with Agazzi beaten with just over half an hour gone as the Rossoblu managed to get to the interval with their lead intact.

Emanuele Giaccherini set the tone for a vastly improved second-half performance when he cut in from the left and stung the palms of Agazzi with the second period only five minutes old.

With his side firmly in the ascendancy, Conte turned the bench to intensify the pressure on the visitors with the introduction of Vucinic, and the Montenegrin had drawn his side level with 61 minutes gone.

He arrived late to tap into an empty net from a header back across goal from Arturo Vidal.

Having restored parity the home side set about drawing two points behind their own record points haul by securing the win but a combination of stout defending, profligacy and luck ensured that they were denied.

Vucinic missed the most presentable chance having been played through on goal by Mauricio Isla before the former Udinese utility man shot over from distance having been set up by Vidal.

Despite the disappointing nature of their performance, there was little lacklustre about the championship celebrations that ensued after the match as Conte and his players celebrated a successive Scudetto win with abandon.

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