|As Mister has said, First you have to win your Match and then ….|
Juventus and Cagliari played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in the first game of 2012 at Juventus Stadium. Antonio Conte’s men began brightly, taking the lead after just seven minutes as Vucinic completed a flowing move by tapping home inside the area. Yet the Rossoblu refused to lie down and restored parity shortly after the break through Cossu’s low strike. The Bianconeri surged forward in search of a winner but Guida’s final whistle left both sides with a share of the spoils. Conte made two changes from last Sunday’s starting line-up in Lecce. Chiellini’s yellow card at the Via del Mare saw the defender serve a one-match suspension, with De Ceglie stepping in at left-back. Matri replaced Quagliarella, who continued his recovery from a fractured cheekbone. New arrival Borriello took his place among the substitutes. The manager used his pre-match press conference to demand a red-hot atmosphere upon the team’s return to Turin.
And the fans’ magnificent response reaped instant rewards as Juve went in front with just seven minutes on the clock. A delightful exchange on the edge of the area saw the ball worked through to Marchisio, who in turn fed Lichtsteiner. The Swiss full-back then cut back to hand Vucinic a simple finish from close range. Juventus refused to settle for their slender advantage and continued to press forward in search of more. Matri went close to following up his goalscoring exploits in Puglia, seeing his fierce right-footed strike whistle agonisingly wide of the post. However, Ballardini’s outfit recovered well from their early setback and looked to cause a few problems of their own. Swedish midfielder Ekdal, co-owned by the two clubs, found himself in space on the edge of the area and unleashed a goalbound strike which was blocked by Bonucci. Urged on by their passionate support, the Bianconeri’s free-flowing football continued, and Vidal will count himself unlucky not to have connected with Matri’s delicious backheel which sent him through on goal midway through the first half. The Chilean had another opportunity moments later, rising highest to meet De Ceglie’s inviting cross but finding Agazzi equal to it.
The goalkeeper was again called into action towards the end of the first period, thwarting Pepe’s header after Vucinic had spotted the winger lurking dangerously at the far post. Despite Juventus emerging for the second half with the same determination and vigour, it was the visitors who silenced the home crowd with an equaliser three minutes after the restart. Cossu, whose intelligent movement represented a constant threat, capitalised on a loose ball on the edge of the area to drill a well-struck shot into the bottom corner. Conte waited until just after the hour-mark before making changes, introducing Del Piero in place of Pepe and sacrificing Matri for Krasic shortly after. The substitutes injected an added attacking impetus but struggled to break down Cagliari’s rearguard which remained resilient throughout. With fifteen minutes remaining, Vucinic almost doubled his tally but failed to direct his attempt on target from a tight angle. The next chance fell to an unmarked Del Piero, who reacted quickest to Pirlo’s free-kick and saw his header stopped by Agazzi. A frantic finale almost saw Juventus snatch all three points as late substitute Borriello made an instant impact. The on-loan frontman picked out Krasic in space, but the Serbian dragged his left-footed shot wide from a promising position. The result put Juventus one point clear at the top of Serie A ahead of this evening’s derby showdown between Milan and Inter.
JUVENTUS 1-1 CAGLIARI
GOALS: Vucinic 7, Cossu 48
JUVENTUS Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Bonucci, De Ceglie; Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio; Pepe (Del Piero 66), Matri (Krasic 71), Vucinic (Borriello 82). Substitutes not used: Storari, Sorensen, Marrone, Estigarribia. Manager: Conte
CAGLIARI Agazzi; Pisano, Canini, Astori, Agostini; Dessena, Nainggolan, Ekdal; Cossu (El Kabir 74); Larrivey (Ariaudo 71), Ibarbo. Substitutes not used: Avramov, Gozzi, Conti, Ceppelini, Thiago Ribeiro. Manager: Ballardini
REFEREE: Guida di Torre Annunziata ASSISTANTS: Alessandroni, Giallatini FOURTH OFFICIAL: Baracani BOOKINGS: Cossu 38, Matri 50, Barzagli 73, Dessena 91