Rome: Alessandro Matri returned to haunt his former club Cagliari when he scored twice in Juventus`s 3-1 win.
The victory ended a run of three straight defeats and eased the pressure on Juve coach Luigi Delneri.
Matri`s goals sandwiched a strike from Cagliari`s Robert Acquafresca before Luca Toni scored a late clincher.
It was a vital win for Juve as well with champions Inter
Milan the visitors to Turin next week.
"It can be more difficult to play against Cagliari than
against Inter," said Delneri.
"Who we`re playing doesn`t change anything for us.”
"We have to show that we`re a team that knows how to
suffer, able to keep its feet on the ground and going forward
week after week."
Cagliari coach Roberto Donadoni said it was strange
seeing former charge Matri scoring against his team.
"It makes an impression seeing Matri score not for the
Cagliari shirt as he was doing until a few days ago but for
another shirt," he said.
"For sure, this time Matri didn`t make Cagliari happy."
Cagliari goalkeeper Michael Agazzi had a match to forget
as he was at fault for all three Juve goals.
On 20 minutes Matri tried his luck from just inside the
area, shooting hard towards the near post but although Agazzi
looked to have it covered, he let it slip through his grasp.
He then committed an absolute howler, letting a shot from
Giorgio Chiellini slip through his fingers before being saved
by an offside flag.
If Cagliari had failed to create much in the first half,
they were a transformed team after the break.
Just six minutes after the restart, Andrea Cossu found
space out on the left and chipped an inswinging cross behind
the Juve defence where Acquafresca ran on to acrobatically
volley home across Gianluigi Buffon.
The hosts could have had a second on the hour as Cossu
cleverly took a quick free-kick, chipping over the napping
Juve defence where Daniele Conti ran onto it but could not
get a true contact on the ball and sliced it off target.
Matri had another chance but sent a near-post header just
past the upright.
Midway through the half, Juve substitute Alessandro Del
Piero tried his luck from range but shot too high.
Matri got his second on 75 minutes as he arrived at the
back post to volley home Chiellini`s cross, although Agazzi`s
positioning was again suspect.
Cagliari thought they had drawn level late on when Nene
headed home a free-kick but it was disallowed for a foul on
And moments later Toni scored his first goal for the club
six minutes from time to put the game to bed, heading home a
Del Piero cross from 17 yards out, although again Agazzi`s
positioning looked questionable.
Udinese continued their bid for a Champions League finish
as they beat Sampdoria 2-0 to move to within a point of the
It was their fifth win, alongside two draws, since the
turn of the year and only Inter Milan have gained more points
than them in 2011.
Striker Antonio Di Natale reached 100 league goals for
the club as he notched the second following Alexis Sanchez`s
"I`ve been waiting two weeks for that," said Di Natale.
"We`re safe (having reached 40 points) now so we need to
get as many points as possible and then see where we are."
For Sampdoria it was a fourth straight defeat in all
competitions as the club continues to slide following the
departure of strike-pair Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini
to AC Milan and Inter respectively.