Juventus bounced back to winning ways following midweek disappointment with a comfortable 3-1 victory away to Cagliari, closing the gap to second-placed Milan to just one point in the Serie A table.
Cagliari held the share of possession in the first half and threatened Juve’s box on occasion, but the visitors were scintillating on the counter attack and exploited the leaks in Cagliari’s defence. The hosts always looked shaky off the ball and were down and out after 32 minutes as a fired up Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the perfect hat-trick to put Juventus in the driver’s seat at half-time.
Cagliari regrouped for the second half, enjoying more possession and testing the Bianconeri’s backline a little more. They pulled one back for their efforts after an hour through Giovanni Simeone and continued to dominate control of the ball, but never looked like mounting a comeback.
Andrea Pirlo’s side kept their nerve despite slacking off and conceding, seeing out the game in ugly but effective fashion with the hard yards done in the first half. The victory goes some way in repairing the damage of their Champions League last 16 exit, particularly for a vengeful Ronaldo.
With that in mind, here’s how Juve performed at the Sardegna Arena.
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – 6/10 – Could do nothing to stop Simeone’s strike and dealt with anything else that came his way with relative ease.
Juan Cuadrado (RB) – 6/10 – Less impactful than his personally impressive outing against Porto in the Champions League, but Cuadrado still notched an assist and brought Juve out from the back with solid passing and dribbling.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – 6/10 – De Ligt looked immediately more comfortable alongside Chiellini and stepped out to stifle Cagliari’s attack, although to fleeting success. Won three aerial duels in a decent 90 minutes.
Giorgio Chiellini (CB) – 7/10 – The veteran’s experience showed through his determination to dominate in the air and sweep away danger. Could’ve done more to mark Simeone for Cagliari’s goal, but didn’t know about the run and was otherwise solid.
Alex Sandro (LB) – 5/10 – Barely played half an hour before being substituted.
Dejan Kulusevski (RM) – 5/10 – Stretched the pitch on the right flank, but lacked end product and was never as productive as Chiesa was for Juve.
Danilo (CM) – 5/10 – The utility man was deployed in a holding midfield role, but failed to truly assert himself and didn’t track a run into the box for Cagliari’s goal.
Adrien Rabiot (CM) – 6/10 – Tackled efficiently for his side and recycled play in midfield. Rabiot was allowed to venture forward with Danilo sitting, but lacked the quality to trap the ball in advanced areas at times.
Federico Chiesa (LM) – 7/10 – Was efficient and electric with every touch of the ball. When not turning a man inside out, Chiesa was putting passes on a plate for Ronaldo and Morata.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – 5/10 – Looked toothless and lacked an edge. Spurned a free hit at goal after 21 minutes, and continually ran down dead ends.
Cristiano Ronaldo (ST) – 10/10 – Header, right foot, left foot; it took Ronaldo just over half an hour to completely annihilate Cagliari’s shaky back line with the perfect hat-trick. Was very fortunate not to be sent off for a first half challenge on Alessio Cragno in goal, mind you.
Federico Bernardeschi – 5/10 – Rarely properly tested as the left back, but didn’t do enough to close down crosses which resulted in his side conceding.
Leonardo Bonucci – 5/10
Weston McKennie – 5/10
Arthur – N/A
Gianluca Frabotta – N/A