advantage of Atalanta’s goalless draw at Genoa with a 2-0 win over Cagliari
which inched them closer to Serie A’s Champions League places, as Salernitana’s
trip to Udinese became the season’s first coronavirus-related casualty.
Moise Kean’s header five minutes before the break and
Federico Bernardeschi’s precision finish after a break-away late on at the
Allianz Stadium moved Juve to within four points of fourth place in Italy’s top
flight, currently occupied by Atalanta.
A fourth win in five matches means Massimiliano Allegri’s
side end 2021 on a high but it was another in a long line of underwhelming
performances from the Old Lady of Italian football, who sit fifth nine points
behind league leaders Inter Milan ahead of their home clash with Torino on
After the winter break they face a true test of their
ambitions for the season, with matches against Napoli, Roma, AC Milan and
Atalanta all coming by mid-February.
“If we get to the end of February with the same gap between
us and the first four places as now I’ll be happy,” Allegri said to DAZN.
“You can’t win all
your matches with your direct rivals so from then on they’ll have to play each
other while we have a simpler calendar.
Juve were missing Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa in attack
and rarely clicked going forward, while a troubled away side can wonder what
might have been with better finishing.
Twice in the second half Cagliari, who are in the midst of a
full-blown crisis after failing to muster a league win since mid-October,
failed to put away gilt-edged chances following sloppy defending from the
Under-fire Cagliari coach Walter Mazzarri could hardly
believe his eyes when, picked out completely alone on the hour mark by Raoul
Bellanova’s perfect low cross, Dalbert somehow shanked wide with the goal at
And eight minutes later Joao Pedro, just about the only
bright sport for the Sardinian side this season with his nine Serie A goals,
headed straight at Wojciech Szczesny from point-blank range.
Bernardeschi’s first goal in Serie A since July 2020 late on
condemned second-from-bottom Cagliari to their third defeat on the bounce,
although one that was less humiliating than the previous two 4-0 thumpings.
They are a point behind Genoa, who didn’t have a single shot
on target as they held a curiously off-form Atalanta team now winless in three
and sweating the fitness of striker Duvan Zapata after the Colombian limped off
in the first half at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
The biggest news of the day came earlier at Udinese, as the
match with Salernitana officially went ahead despite health authorities in
Salerno requesting the away side not leave for northeastern Italy.
The match was eventually abandoned 45 minutes after the
official kick-off time of 1830 local time (1730 GMT), with the Udinese players
remaining in the Dacia Arena’s dressing rooms knowing their opposition was not
going to show up.
Before the game Udinese’s Pierpaolo Marino expressed
annoyance at Salernitana not showing up due to two cases in the squad when just
over a year ago his club had sent a team to Lazio despite having seven players
and former coach Luca Gotti out with Covid infections.
However Salernitana sporting director Angelo Fabiani was
unmoved, saying the club had organised a charter flight for those who had
tested negative but were contacted by health authorities, who banned the whole
team from travelling as they had to isolate as contact cases.
“If we’re banned by the authorities from travelling,
what are we supposed to do?” Fabiani asked.
Salernitana now await the ruling from the football
authorities regarding the result and whether the match will be rescheduled.
However the head of the Italian FA said on Tuesday that they
will be kicked out of Serie A if a buyer for the club is not found by December
31, as they are owned by Lazio chief Claudio Lotito and ownership of multiple
clubs in the same division is not allowed.