Sebastian Giovinco’s goal allowed Juventus to squeeze past Cagliari 1-0 in the Coppa Italia, but Arturo Vidal was one of three players who picked up injuries.
The Bianconeri’s first Coppa Italia tie of the season was also Coach Antonio Conte’s first at the Juventus Stadium since his four-match ban in the betting scandal expired. A huge banner read: ‘Welcome back to our leader, though you never really left.’
Fabio Quagliarella and Marco Storari were suspended, but Nicklas Bendtner, Paul Pogba and Luca Marrone were given rare starts. Cagliari left many of their top stars behind, using a very attack-minded 4-2-3-1 system.
Giovinco, who was sporting a new beard, sprung the offside trap only to aim the finish weakly into the goalkeeper’s arms. Bendtner also blasted wide, but there was bad news when Vidal pulled up by himself in midfield and limped off with a suspected knee problem. Vidal had already been a last-minute replacement for Emanuele Giaccherini, who picked up an injury in the warm-up.
Bendtner thought he’d scored his first Juve goal, but again Vlada Avramov was able to parry. The Dane on loan from Arsenal headed a Leonardo Bonucci cross into the ground and back over from close range.
Giovinco had hooked a long ball over the top to go clear on goal when incorrectly ruled offside, though Avramov had also read his lob.
A Giovinco shot was accidentally charged down by teammate Paolo De Ceglie in the box, as Juve fans started to grumble from the stands. Bendtner then crumpled to the ground during a counter-attack and immediately called for a substitution. He was stretchered off for ex-Cagliari star Alessandro Matri, the third forced change for Conte this evening.
Juventus finally broke the deadlock just shy of the hour mark, as Luca Rossettini didn’t clear Simone Padoin’s cross effectively, so Giovinco pounced and dribbled forward to slot in at the near post.
Cagliari had their first shot on goal after 59 minutes, as Gigi Buffon got down to palm a Daniele Dessena strike round the upright. Ceppelini won back possession in the box to roll across for Mauricio Pinilla, who turned wide under pressure from Leonardo Bonucci.
Giovinco and Matri blasted off target, while Rossettini nodded a free kick past the post. A Juve corner ricocheted off several legs – including the referee – before it was put back out again. Matri’s glancing header from a Giovinco corner flashed across the face of goal.
Thiago Ribeiro went on the counter and collapsed on the edge of the box under a Bonucci challenge, but was booked for simulation and admitted to his dive.
Juventus go through to face the winners of Milan-Reggina in the Quarter-Final next month.
Juventus 1-0 Cagliari
Scorers: Giovinco 57 (J)
Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Marrone, Bonucci; Isla, Padoin, Pogba, Vidal (Asamoah 16), De Ceglie; Bendtner (Matri 44), Giovinco
Cagliari: Avramov; Perico, Rossettini, Del Fabro, Murru; Eriksson, Ekdal (Dossena 46); Ibarbo, Ceppelini (Piredda 77), Thiago Ribeiro; Pinilla