Milan: A first-half header from Juan Cuadrado delivered a 1-0 win for a jittery Juventus at Sampdoria yesterday during which infuriated coach Massimiliano Allegri kicked kit bags on the touchline.
Juve’s 24th league win of thge campaign moved the champions 10 points clear of Napoli after their earlier 3-2 win at Empoli.
But, days after sealing a mouthwatering Champions League quarter-final match-up with Barcelona following a 1-0 win over Porto, it was a far from trademark Juventus performance at teh Luigi Ferraris stadium.
Cuadrado rose to meet a great delivery from Kwadwo Asamoah after just seven minutes to put Juve ahead, but after losing playmaker Paulo Dybala to injury early on the Turin giants laboured for the remainder.
Injuries in midfield and defence forced Allegri to ring the changes, Claudio Marchisio and Alex Sandro joining defenders Giorgio Chiellini on the bench while Leonardo Bonucci was rested to avoid a ban ahead of an upcoming clash with Napoli.
Asamoah started at left-back, and the Ghanaian seized the day with a great delivery that Cuadrado rose to head confidently past Christian Puggioni.
Stepping in for suspended Samp ‘keeper Emiliano Viviani, Puggioni made amends by stopping Gonzalo Higuain from close range after the Argentine pounced on a Karol Linetty error.
But the 27th minute loss of Dybala, who hit the winner from the spot over Porto on Tuesday, due to a muscle upset Juve’s plans.
Bruno Fernandes’ volley tested Gianluigi Buffon in the Juve net while at the other end 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.