Paul Pogba capped a strong return to first-team action by netting a first-half goal in this evening’s 1-1 draw against Cagliari at Juventus Stadium, with Luca Rossettini salvaging a point late on for the visitors.
With a 33rd Scudetto title already wrapped up courtesy of last weekend’s win over Sampdoria, the Bianconeri ran out into a carnival atmosphere at a Juventus Stadium basking in glorious summer sunshine.
But while the feeling in the stands was celebratory, Juventus were in no mood to take their foot off the accelerator and went in front through a Pogba strike that looped past a motionless Zeljko Brkic on the stroke of half time.
Relegation-threatened Cagliari, however, refused to throw in the towel and earned an equaliser their spirited display merited when Rossettini tapped over the line from a matter of yards after seeing an initial header bounce back off the post.
The French midfielder gave the Bianconeri faithful an early taste of what they had been missing with a mazy run forward and subsequent free-kick that fizzed just wide of the post on just three minutes.
A tame Diego Farias effort aside, stopped comfortably by Marco Storari at his near post, it was Juventus who enjoyed most of the early exchanges and another Pogba exploit, this time a delicious dink into the penalty box, saw a chance come and go for Alessandro Matri, who was unable to drag the ball from under his feet and dispatch a clean strike on goal.
To their credit, Cagliari, who approached the game on the back of two wins in their last three, began to probe for a few openings of their own, with the pace of Farias drawing a number of Storari dashes from his line and one particular last-ditch intervention from Andrea Barzagli.
These forays into Bianconeri territory were soon counteracted by an increasing presence in the Cagliari final third, where attempts from Kingsley Coman and Pogba went close to establishing the lead.
It seemed as if it would be a matter of time before Pogba finally got the breakthrough his determination deserved, and this persistence paid off on the stroke of half time when he gathered Simone Padoin’s square ball and unleashed a shot from the edge of the area that took a deflection and spun past a stranded Brkic.
The second half yielded further Juventus dominance, although they were dealt a let off just shy of the hour mark when Luca Rossettini planted his header over after rising highest in the area to meet Joao Pedro’s free-kick.
Fresh legs in the form of Stefano Sturaro and Paolo De Ceglie joined the action either side of the hour mark in place of Marchisio and Pogba respectively, but it was a man returning to the starting line-up, Romulo, who fashioned the next chance to extend the scoreline, lashing just wide of the post after picking up the pieces from a knockdown on the edge of the area.
Cagliari turned the screw in the closing stages as they bid to fashion something from the encounter and grabbed an equaliser when Rossettini poked the ball over the line from close range after seeing his initial header denied by the woodwork.
They could even have nicked it in injury time when second-half substitute Marco Sau blazed over from point-blank range in what proved to be the last goalmouth action of the encounter.
With Serie A action put to one side for the time being, attentions will now immediately turn to the Bianconeri’s biggest game of the season so far: Wednesday night's Champions League semi-final return leg against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.