Own goal helps off-form Juve draw at Cagliari

Published April 21, 2024
CAGLIARI: Dusan Vlahovic of Juventus makes an acrobatic attempt to score during the Serie A match against Cagliari at the Sardegna Arena.—Reuters
CAGLIARI: Dusan Vlahovic of Juventus makes an acrobatic attempt to score during the Serie A match against Cagliari at the Sardegna Arena.—Reuters

CAGLIARI: A late own goal by defender Alberto Dossena salvaged a 2-2 draw for Juventus at lowly Cagliari in Serie A on Friday after the hosts went two goals up in the first half thanks to penalties.

Trailing at the break to penalties from Gianluca Gaetano and Yerry Mina, Juve claw themselves to a point as Dusan Vlahovic whipped in a perfect 62nd-minute free-kick before Dossena’s unfortunate own goal three minutes from time.

Juve, who have yet to seal their return to the Champions League after missing out on the European competitions this season, are third on 64 points after 33 games, five points ahead of fourth-placed Bologna who visit AS Roma, in fifth, on Monday.

The draw is another of a number of disappointing recent results for Massimiliano Allegri’s side whose season is petering out towards a drab ending after for a time promising a league title race.

Two wins in 12 matches have left Juve 19 points behind league leaders Inter Milan, who can secure the Scudetto by beating local rivals AC Milan on Monday night.

“We recovered it but today’s performance must make us think,” coach Massimiliano Allegri told Sky Sport. “You cannot leave a whole first half to the opponent... We missed so many simple things. So many passes. We gave away every ball we could. After the first half I should have changed them all. Myself included. I saw technical errors that I didn’t want to believe.

“Then we did well to put it back on its feet... I’ll take the point and the second half. At the end of the season we need to sit down and assess things, from there we’ll kick on. The most important thing right now is securing Champions League football.”

It was far from a dream start for Allegri’s side when Gaetano put Cagliari in front in the 30th minute, sending Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way after they were awarded a penalty for a Gleison Bremer handball.

The hosts won another penalty when Szczesny attempted to stop the racing forward Zito Luvumbo with a foul, and Mina converted from the spot again to double their lead six minutes later.

Vlahovic thought he pulled one back for Juve before the break but his close-range effort was ruled out for offside.

The Serbian striker, however, made no mistake in the second half when he netted a free kick from just outside the box, which was given to Juve for Nahitan Nandez’s foul on Federico Chiesa.

Juventus had 75% possession as the game neared to a close but continued to lack sharpness in attack.

Cagliari thought they were about to seal the much-needed three points when their defender Dossena levelled for the visitors with an own goal three minutes from the end.

Juve forward Kenan Yildiz sent a long cross inside the box and an unsuccessful clearance by Dossena sent the ball past their keeper Simone Scuffet.

Cagliari stay 14th, five points above the relegation zone. One defeat in their last nine games and a series of hugely impressive performances have lifted Cagliari away from danger after being second-from-bottom in mid-February.

“We need to stay united and we’ll stay in Serie A. The fans deserve and I hope they are proud of us because the boys gave absolutely everything,” said coach Claudio Ranieri.

Confirmation of Serie A’s fifth spot in next season’s Champions League means Juve are effectively guaranteed a place in next year’s tournament. With five matches remaining in their campaign Juve are 12 points above sixth-placed Lazio who are three points from the Champions League places thanks to want-away star Luis Alberto shooting them to a 1-0 win at Genoa.

Luis Alberto swept home the decisive goal in the 57th minute, only a few days after saying that he wanted to rescind his contract.

His goal pushed Lazio to within sight of local rivals Roma, who also have the final 18 minutes of their interrupted fixture at Udinese to play on April 25, a match which was locked at 1-1 when Evan Ndicka’s on-pitch collapse caused play to be suspended.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2024

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