Cagliari 0 - 1 Juventus: Bernardeschi strike earns Juve hard-fought win

Posted Sunday, January 07, 2018 by PA

Cagliari 0 - 1 Juventus: Bernardeschi strike earns Juve hard-fought win

Juventus remained within a point of Serie A leaders Napoli ahead of the winter break as Federico Bernardeschi's second-half strike secured a 1-0 win at Cagliari.

Bernardeschi, one of three players to hit the woodwork in the first half, converted from close range in the 74th minute, with Cagliari left angry that play had not been halted moments earlier when Leonardo Pavoletti took an arm in the face from Medhi Benatia.

An entertaining opening 45 minutes saw Paulo Dybala and Bernardeschi strike bar and post respectively before Wojciech Szczesny turned Diego Farias' shot against Juve's upright.

It was certainly not the most comfortable of outings for Massimiliano Allegri's second-placed side - they lost Dybala and Sami Khedira to injury after the break - but a sixth win in seven league matches was sealed in the end.

And it means, with a two-week hiatus now beginning, the points difference between the champions and Napoli remains what it was prior to the latter's 2-0 win over Hellas Verona earlier on Saturday.

As 16th-placed Cagliari came under early pressure, Dybala curled a free-kick against the bar and Gonzalo Higuain sent a shot wide after collecting Khedira's pass.

Juventus rattled the goal frame again soon after, with Bernardeschi's excellent strike coming back off a post, and the visitors then had the ball in the net in the 21st minute, although Benatia's finish was ruled out for offside.

Just prior to that Pavoletti had directed a header off target at the other end and in the 26th minute he brought a great, point-blank save out of Szczesny with another headed effort.

Szczesny, again playing in the absence of the injured Gianluigi Buffon, then denied Cagliari in fine style once more as he diverted Farias' shot on to a post just before the break.

Things were not going as smoothly for Juventus as they might have expected and that continued as the second half got under way.

Dybala was forced to come off in the 49th minute with an apparent hamstring problem and Khedira followed only a few minutes later after being involved in an aerial collision with Szczesny, Douglas Costa and Mario Mandzukic coming on to replace them.

As the away side tried to build some momentum, Miralem Pjanic shot wide and Giorgio Chiellini headed over, sustaining a head injury in the process. The skipper was able to continue playing, but only after having a bandage wrapped around his head.

Juventus then made the breakthrough, with Bernardeschi tucking the ball past Rafael from Costa's delivery.

Moments before the goal, Pavoletti was left on the ground having been caught in the face by Benatia's arm, with play being allowed to continue.

The Cagliari man, backed by team-mates, protested in animated fashion to the referee after the goal went in, but it only resulted in him being booked.



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