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    Juventus suffer shock home defeat to Cagliari

    New Delhi: Juventus were beaten 3-2 at home by a hugely impressive Cagliari, who recorded their third victory in a week and further jeopardised the Bianconeri's Scudetto challenge.

    Juventus hosted an in-form Cagliari side at the Stadio Olimpico of Turin knowing that only victory would allow them to keep up with Serie A leaders Inter. Coach Claudio Ranieri welcomed back captain Alessandro Del Piero, who played along with Amauri in Juve’s attack. Meanwhile, Cagliari played in a 4-3-1-2 with Andrea Cossu behind Jeda and Robert Acquafresca up front.

    First Half

    True to their impressive recent form, Cagliari started the match better than Juve, putting a lot of pressure on the Bianconeri all over the pitch.

    The first big chance came in the 13th minute for the home side, however, as Nicola Legrottaglie tried to slice the ball in on a low cross by Marco Marchionni, but the Cagliari goalkeeper came up with a brilliant save to keep it out.

    A minute later, Mohamed Sissoko wasted a big chance to put Juve in front, as he found himself alone in front of the keeper after a nice exchange with Amauri, but he sent the ball wide of the goal.

    In the 16th minute, Cagliari took the lead through Davide Biondini, who headed in a great cross by Michele Fini from the right, beating Marchionni in the air to make it 1-0 to the Rossoblu.

    The home side responded in the 19th minute, when Del Piero sent the ball over the bar with a header on a cross from the right by Marchionni.

    However, the visitors nearly made it 2-0 two minutes later, when Jeda dribbled past a couple of defenders and cut the ball back to Cossu, who slipped just when he was about to take a shot on goal.

    Juve were clearly struggling at this point, but they found an equaliser at the most unexpected time. Around the half hour mark, they won a corner, which was taken by Del Piero, who found Sissoko in the area to head the ball past Marchetti and make it all square again.

    Cagliari did not look out of sorts after this setback, and in the 37th minute they came close to scoring again, as Fini tried an audacious volley on a cross by Cossu, but sent the ball wide of the post.

    The home side grabbed the lead in the 38th minute thanks to evergreen midfield warrior Pavel Nedved, who controlled a loose ball with his chest and fired in a low shot toward the bottom corner that beat Marchetti.

    Two minutes later, the Czech star threatened again, sending the ball just wide of the post with another shot from the edge of the area on a pass by Marchionni.

    That was the last chance of an entertaining first half, which saw Juve take a 2-1 lead somewhat against the run of play.

    Second Half

    Cagliari started the second half strongly, and after Cossu had sent in a dangerous cross that eluded everyone in the 52nd minute, Jeda found a well-deserved equaliser for the Rossoblu a minute later.

    A quick counterattack saw Cossu play a perfect ball to Jeda, who beat the offside trap before lobbing the ball over goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, to make it 2-2.

    The match wasn’t as exciting as in the first half in the restart, as Cagliari tried to hold on to the draw following their equaliser and play possession football.

    In the 68th minute, Nedved was very dangerous again as he controlled an assist by Legrottaglie with his head and fired the ball just wide from inside the area. Juve came close again two minutes later, when Cristian Molinaro made a run on the left wing and sent in a cross that was met by Amauri, who headed the ball straight at the goalkeeper from a good position.

    At the other end, substitute Andrea Lazzari came close for Cagliari, firing a shot that was deflected by Negrottaglie and went just wide of Buffon’s left post.

    The visitors took a surprise lead in the 79th minute, when Jeda cut the ball back inside the area following a counter-attack and substitute Alessandro Matri slotted the ball past Buffon to make it 2-3.

    In the last ten minutes of the match, Juventus looked powerless and failed to trouble Cagliari’s goalkeeper again. This costly defeat might see them drop nine points behind leaders Inter if the Nerazzurri win their match against Torino on Sunday.

    Teams

    Juventus (4-4-2): Buffon; Mellberg, Legrottaglie, Chiellini (71’ Grygera), Molinaro; Marchionni (69’ Iaquinta), Sissoko, Zanetti (21’ Marchisio), Nedved; Amauri, Del Piero. Coach: Ranieri.

    Cagliari (4-3-1-2): Marchetti; Pisano, Bianco, Canini, Agostini; Biondini, Conti, Fini (85’ Parola); Cossu (69’ Lazzari); Jeda, Acquafresca (60’ Matri). Coach: Allegri.

    Goals: 16’ Biondini (C), 31’ Sissoko (J), 38’ Nedved (J), 54’ Jeda (C), 78’ Matri (C)

    Booked: Chiellini, Del Piero (J); Agostini, Conti, Pisano (C)

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