Allegri erupts as Cuadrado saves Juve blushes
MILAN: Massimiliano Allegri hailed an “important step forward” as jittery Juventus edged closer to a record sixth consecutive scudetto with a precious 1-0 win at Sampdoria on Sunday. “This is an important step forward because we have a very difficult end to the season,” Allegri said after a 24th win of the campaign moved the Turin giants 10 points ahead of Napoli, in second. Roma are a point behind in third before hosting Sassuolo later on Sunday. “It was important to win here because as soon as we come back we face Napoli.
“The lads played one of the best first halves of the year and in the second, although we had a few chances, we put ourselves at risk when it would have been far easier to tighten up.”
A superb header from Juan Cuadrado on seven minutes gave Juventus the early advantage, until the loss of playmaker Paulo Dybala to a flexor muscle problem on 27 minutes changed Allegri’s gameplan.
He replaced Dybala with Marko Pjaca, but Juve laboured for the remainder on their way to seeing former striker Fabio Quagliarella fire an overhead kick over Gianluigi Buffon’s crossbar in the closing minutes.
Bruno Fernandes’ volley had tested Buffon in the opening half while at the other end Christian Puggioni flew to fingertip Pjaca’s angled drive around the post on the stroke of half-time.
If Allegri hoped for improvement, he was to be left disappointed by a messy second half.
Allegri’s nerves were frayed on several occasions, notably when Kwadwo Asamoah, having provided Cuadrado’s assist, panicked and lost possession while under pressure in the area. After Luis Muriel threatened to send Patrik Schlick through on the left, Higuain overhit his pass for Cuadrado, who was replaced moments later by Mario Lemina.
Lemina’s first task was to head clear a dangerous Quagliarella ball into the area, but Allegri erupted 12 minutes from the end when Dani Alves came off worst in a fair challenge with Vasco Regini.
The Juve coach said a little more aggression from his own players would not go amiss.
“We have to be a bit more committed, not let players get past us and try to be more organised,” he added.
“Today we made only three or four fouls, while against Milan we suffered 21 and committed eight. We suffer a lot, but sometimes (committing) a foul can be useful.” — AFP