Cristiano Ronaldo silences his critics with a hat-trick as Juventus register a comfortable 3-1 victory over Cagliari.
Despite a shock exit from the UEFA Champions League, Juventus continue their march in the Serie A by securing a 3-1 win over Cagliari. The comfortable victory at the Sardegna Arena helps them maintain pressure on the likes of AC Milan and Inter Milan at the top of the league table.
Juventus’ performance itself, especially in the first half served as a statement of intent for the two Milan outfits, as they were completely dominant over their Sardinian opponents. It was Cristiano Ronaldo who drew first blood in the tenth minute with a smacking header, before doubling his tally 15 minutes after, through a penalty that was won by him initially.
The Portuguese international then completed his hat-trick 32nd minute with another brilliant strike – helping the Bianconeri secure an unassailable 3-0 lead at half-time.
Cagliari, however, improved a lot after the restart, offering a lot of threat in the final third in search of a comeback goal. They were rewarded for their efforts as well when Giovanni Simeone smacked home a cross from Gabrielle Zappa to spark his team’s hopes of making a comeback.
Unfortunately for the hosts, it wasn’t enough as Juventus managed to keep hold of their two-goal cushion, ultimately emerging as the 3-1 victors in this tie. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at how the Juve players performed in this crucial victory over Cagliari, in the Serie A this weekend.
Wojciech Szczesny: 7/10
Despite all the attacking intent from Cagliari in the second half, Wojciech Szczesny still had a relatively quiet game in goal for Juventus. He was, however, forced into a couple of excellent saves around the hour-mark, including the one to deny Razvan Marin from long-range. The Pole couldn’t have done much to keep out the strike from Simeone, though.
Juan Cuadrado: 7.5/10
A solid performance at right-back from Juan Cuadrado, who keeps impressing the onlookers with his service going forward. He notably set up Ronaldo’s opener with a perfect delivery while making multiple runs into the final third. The Colombian international did well defensively too, keeping Nahitan Nandez quiet for the most part.
? | Cuadrado is the Juventus player who has provided the most assists (13) this season in all competitions – the latest Juventus player to do the same in a single season in official matches was Douglas Costa in 2017/18 (13). pic.twitter.com/A8tPGkGzKX
— Nisrin (@NisrinJuve) March 14, 2021
Matthijs de Ligt: 7.5/10
Matthijs de Ligt simply had to step up his game following a midweek exit from the Champions League and that he did, looking quite comfortable alongside Giorgio Chiellini. It appears the veteran’s more robust and no-nonsense style of defending helped the youngster become more expressive with the ball.
Giorgio Chiellini: 7/10
Chiellini, as mentioned earlier, complemented de Ligt at the heart of the four-man backline. The long-serving defender barely looked troubled in dealing with Joao Pedro – ending the game with two successful aerial duels as well as a pass completion rate of 90%. He was taken off during the final phase of the game as he made way for another veteran Leonardo Bonucci.
Alex Sandro: 6.5/10
It was surprising to see Alex Sandro not starting on the bench as part of Andrea Pirlo’s rotation policy. And unfortunately, it turned out to be an unlucky decision for the Juventus coach, as the left-back picked up an injury around the half-hour mark – forcing him off the pitch, in the 34th minute.
Alex Sandro out with an injury, Federico Bernardeschi now start on the left side of the defense again.#CagliariJuve
— Old Juve (@OldjuveFS) March 14, 2021
Dejan Kulusevski: 6/10
Dejan Kulusevski had promising moments during certain stages of the game, but the attacker failed to offer that sustained bit of pressure on the Cagliari defence. His influence on the proceedings also waned as the game progressed, and it was quite surprising to see him play the entirety of ninety minutes this evening.
Danilo started in an unusual central midfield role for Juventus, perhaps to assert the additional physicality and solidity at the base of the setup. The Brazilian had a bit of a problem marking Simeone for the Cagliari goal, but his overall influence in the game was decent, though nothing spectacular.
Adrien Rabiot: 7/10
Adrien Rabiot provided grace to Danilo’s grit, although it is fair to point out that the former PSG midfielder did indeed impress in the more defensive side of things, including the recycling of possession as well as pressuring the opposing ball-carriers. It was not a spectacular performance by Rabiot, but one that helped Juventus assert their dominance in the game.
Federico Chiesa: 8/10
? | Chiesa stats vs Cagliari:
• 85.2%➖Passes completed
• 1/3 Accurate crosses
• 1 Interception
• 1 Clearance
• 4 Key passes
• 1 Big chance created
• 1 Assist pic.twitter.com/JvLKTNcw2e
— Nisrin (@NisrinJuve) March 14, 2021
Federico Chiesa was once again influential in Juventus’ chance creation in the final third. He was very lively down the flanks, often looking to attack the opposition while also making clever movements in and around the attacking area. The Italian crafted multiple opportunities as well, one of which found Ronaldo for his third goal – effectively sealing the tie.
The former Fiorentina prodigy certainly has the potential to become one of Juventus’ main assets in the post-Ronaldo era, if he continues to perform at this rate.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 10/10
Subjected to all kinds of criticism following Juventus’ exit from the Champions League in midweek, Cristiano Ronaldo exhibited elite mentality to not let the critics affect his performance. On the contrary, it inspired him to produce a stunning attacking display that took the Cagliari defence by surprise, as the attacker netted a quickfire first-half hat-trick.
Although the Portuguese sensation had a relatively quiet second half, he was still the focal point of the Juventus attack. His tenacity to find the back of the net kept the opposition on their toes, with no real room to fight back or at least minimise his influence.
A hattrick in 33 minutes as @Cristiano answers his critics in the best way possible. ????
— Gary Lineker ? (@GaryLineker) March 14, 2021
Alvaro Morata: 5/10
While Ronaldo ruled the show in the final third, Alvaro Morata flopped just as much – failing to provide any real quality or consistency in the Juventus frontline. He looked sloppy in possession and far from impressive in his decision-making as the striker continues to struggle in his second spell with the club. It won’t be surprising to see him leave Turin before Ronaldo.
Federico Bernardeschi: 6/10
Federico Bernardeschi replaced the injured Alex Sandro in the 34th minute, offering more attacking impetus on the flanks. While the attacker does deserve some credit for remaining fairly solid defensively, he provided very little penetration going forward.
Weston McKennie: 6/10
With Juventus lacking a proper ball-carrier in midfield, Pirlo made the smart decision of introducing Weston McKennie in the 70th minute. One could say, however, that the move was made a bit too late.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
Replaced Chiellini in the final phase of the game to help Juventus hold on to their two-goal advantage.
Gianluca Frabotta: N/A
A late replacement for Cuadrado. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
A late replacement for Chiesa. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.