06.01.2018 23:10 - in: Match report S

    Bernardeschi seals victory in Sardinia!

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    Juventus claim all three points away to Cagliari thanks to Federico Bernardeschi’s 74th-minute winner at the Sardegna Arena

    When you’re challenging for titles, it doesn’t always matter how you win games. The crucial thing is doing so. This was far from Juventus’ prettiest performance of the season, but they take three points of utmost importance back to Turin.

    Thanks to Federico Bernardeschi’s match-winner in the 74th minute, the Bianconeri stay hot on the heels of Napoli, who sit just one point clear at the top of the Serie A table going into the winter break.

    Make no mistake, this was also a game full of flashpoints and scoring opportunities for both teams and the final score really could – and perhaps should – have been different to the 1-0 win it eventually ended up as.

    From the moment that Paulo Dybala struck the crossbar with a fierce free-kick in the ninth minute, Juve created the lion’s share of chances with Gonzalo Higuain firing narrowly wide and Bernardeschi catching the inside of the post with a spectacular drive from the right wing.

    The Bianconeri even had the ball in the back of the net on 21 minutes when Medhi Benatia poked in from a free-kick, but the Moroccan was correctly flagged for offside.

    The visitors were very nearly made to pay for their near misses in the 26th minute: Cagliari striker, Leonardo Pavoletti, rose highest at a corner and his bullet header looked certain to be going in, but in his way stood Wojciech Szczesny, who made a superb save low down to his right before punching clear with his other glove.

    The hosts looked to be growing in confidence, with Andrea Barzagli needed to make a last-ditch challenge on Diego Farias in the box and the Rossoblù forward forced Szczesny into another stunning save. This time the Pole somehow got a hand to Farias’ ferocious shot, tipping it on to the near post.

    With the game astonishingly still goalless at half-time, the second period started in lively fashion, but for the wrong reasons as both Paulo Dybala and Sami Khedira were forced to leave the field after picking up knocks.

    That didn’t stop Juve from continuing to push for a breakthrough: Miralem Pjanic dragged wide on the hour mark, before Giorgio Chiellini and Benatia both headed off target from free-kicks whipped in by the Bosnian.

    The breakthrough moment finally arrived on 74 minutes and in brilliant fashion too, as Douglas Costa dribbled past two markers down the right before playing the perfect cross into the box for Bernardeschi to stab home from point-blank range.

    The Bianconeri momentarily had hearts in mouths when referee, Gianpaolo Calvarese, consulted VAR after Cagliari appeals for handball by Bernardeschi in the box, but no penalty was awarded to the hosts, as the visitors who managed to preserve their slender lead up until the final whistle and, in doing so, hand Massimiliano Allegri his 100th Serie A win in charge of Juventus and possibly one of the most important.

    Juventus now have over a fortnight to recharge their batteries. They resume business on Monday 22 January against Genoa at Allianz Stadium.

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