Cagliari 1-2 Juventus: Vlahovic keeps Bianconeri in Scudetto hunt
Juventus came from behind to solidify their grip on a top-four spot and keep their Scudetto hopes alive with a 2-1 Serie A win at Cagliari.
Massimiliano Allegri has consistently rebuffed talk of Juve joining an absorbing three-way title race, but the Bianconeri are now just five points behind leaders Milan – albeit having played a game more – after victory in Sardinia.
Allegri's men were in danger of suffering a setback when Joao Pedro gave Cagliari an unexpected early lead and Luca Pellegrini then saw a goal controversially disallowed.
However, Juve pulled off a turnaround thanks to Matthijs de Ligt's leveller and Dusan Vlahovic's 75th-minute winner.
Relegation-threatened Cagliari had lost their previous four league games but took the lead in the 10th minute through Joao Pedro's sublime strike.
Paulo Dybala was dispossessed in midfield by Razvan Marin, who surged down the right and laid the ball off for Joao Pedro to steer it into the top-left corner.
Juve appeared to have levelled when Pellegrini's left-footed drive deflected beyond Alessio Cragno, but the visitors were left incensed as the goal was ruled out by the VAR for handball, with the ball striking Adrien Rabiot's elbow on its way in.
The Bianconeri continued to pepper the Cagliari goal, though, and their reward finally came on the stroke of half-time.
Juan Cuadrado saw a long-range effort turned behind, but the same man delivered a deft cross following the subsequent corner, with De Ligt arriving to power a header into the bottom-left corner.
Giorgio Chiellini had a goal ruled out for offside soon after the restart and Dybala fired over on the half-volley before later teeing up Cuadrado to shoot narrowly wide of the far post.
Juve's luck was finally in 15 minutes from the end of normal time as Vlahovic, having moments earlier been denied by Cragno, saw Giorgio Altare's attempted interception of Dybala's throughball deflect off his leg and beyond the unfortunate Cagliari goalkeeper.
What does it mean? Juve play the waiting game
A frustrated Juve were forced to be patient for their reward here, and they will now have to wait to see if their title prospects can be considered realistic.
Milan visit Torino on Sunday, while Napoli, who along with Inter are a point adrift, host Fiorentina. If they each drop points, then perhaps Juve can start to get excited about a late Scudetto surge.
A tale of the unexpected
Juve had 20 shots to Cagliari's four but produced an expected goals value of just 1.44, illustrating that their chances were rarely high-percentage ones.
Having seen one goal chalked off due to a deflection, they were grateful for one that went in their favour in the closing stages.
A happy hunting ground
Allegri's men have now won 10 of their past 11 Serie A away games at Cagliari, who are just three points above the relegation zone.
Key Opta facts
– Juventus have won three consecutive away games in Serie A for their first time since May 2021.
– Vlahovic has scored five Serie A goals against Cagliari (including his first goal in the competition), his joint-most against a single opponent.
– Vlahovic's sides have earned 20 points thanks to his 22 goals netted this Serie A season, at least four points more gained by any side thanks to the goals of a single player.
– Three of last four Serie A goals scored by De Ligt were headers from Cuadrado assists.
– Federico Bernardeschi has now played 200 Serie A games. He also played his 150th game in the competition against Cagliari.
Juve take on Bologna in Turin next Saturday, when Cagliari play host to Sassuolo.