London: Antonio Conte`s men staged a late turnaround in Parma as they end the year with a victory against a stubborn Sardinian side
Juventus produced a late fightback in their final match of 2012 as they beat a plucky Cagliari side 3-1 at Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma.
The Rossoblu took the lead in the first half when Arturo Vidal felled Marco Sau in the area and Mauricio Pinilla converted from the spot, but the Bianconeri fought back to level through Alessandro Matri and the substitute stole the victory for the visitors in added time with his second strike before Marko Vucinic made sure of the points.
The Old Lady controlled the opening stages of the match, finding each other with consummate ease and exploiting the space offered up to them by their opponents, but couldn’t maintain that composure in the final third.
Their predicament was epitomised by Claudio Marchisio’s wasteful pass in the area after a sharp exchange between Sebastian Giovinco and Kwadwo Asamoah, the midfielder coming up short in his attempt to set up Fabio Quagliarella.
Juventus then fell behind after 15 minutes as the hosts took the lead in their adopted home from the penalty spot.
Marco Sau was upended by a clumsy challenge in the area from Vidal and referee Antonio Damato took his time to deliberate before eventually pointing to the spot.
Pinilla stepped up and rattled the penalty beyond Gigi Buffon into the top left-hand corner to give his side the unexpected advantage.
The visitors continued to dominate possession but failed to put Michael Agazzi’s goal under any real threat before halftime.
Asamoah fizzed a dangerous ball across the face of goal and Quagliarella and Stephan Lichtsteiner both blazed wide from promising positions, but it took until the 43rd minute for Andrea Pirlo to register the Bianconeri’s first shot on target with a low drive from the edge of the area.
Juventus had a penalty shout of their own turned down by Domato when Quagliarella appeared to be hauled down by Davide Astori as Cagliari protected their lead with minimal fuss up to the break.
The visitors began to probe with a bit more intent after the break. Marchisio forced a more meaningful stop from Agazzi and a last-ditch block denied the same player after a smart turn in the area as Conte’s men tried to crank up the pressure on Cagliari.
At the other end Sau continued to keep the Bianconeri defence on their feet, firstly forcing Buffon to tip over after an instinctive turn and shot before flashing a low centre along the Juventus goal.
Asamoah felt he should have had a penalty midway through the second half when he was barged in the back following a corner. Leonardo Bonucci’s initial header came back of the frame of the goal and when substitute Matri had his follow up saved, the winger appeared to be shoved in the back as he skewed his header wide from two yards out.
Cagliari were then reduced to 10 men as captain Astori was dismissed for a second bookable offence after a needless trip on Giovinco and soon after the visitors had a penalty of their own to level things up.
Substitute Dario Del Fabro’s first contribution to proceedings was to foul the tricky Giovinco in his own box but Vidal couldn’t atone for his earlier misdemeanour and skied his penalty over the bar.
Cagliari’s luck eventually ran out and it was the combination of the two substitutes Mirko Vucinic and Matri that finally undid the hosts defence.
Pirlo found the Montenegrin on the edge of the area and his ferocious effort was spilt by Agazzi at the feet of Matri who prodded the ball home after reacting quickest.
Matri then proved to be the hero as Nene`s poor clearance deflected off Vidal and into the former Cagliari man`s path as he kept his cool to slot past Agazzi in stoppage time.
Vucinic then made sure of the points as he converted Giovinco`s low centre from a couple of yards out to complete the comeback.