Juventus extended their lead at the top of Serie A as they overcame a spirited Sampdoria side 2-1 at the Allianz Stadium.
The visitors thought they had stolen a point in Turin with a last minute Riccardo Saponara strike, only to see the goal rule out in a game dominated by VAR decisions.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s inclusion from the outset proved telling, as he fired home from the edge of the area inside the opening two minutes to give Juve a dream start. The hosts continued to dominate possession in the opening exchanges and fashioned an opening as Paulo Dybala exchanged passes with Giorgio Chiellini before curling just wide of Emil Audero’s far post.
Sampdoria, despite offering very little in an attacking sense, were thrown a lifeline after a prolonged VAR decision saw Emre Can harshly penalised for handling Dennis Praet’s corner in the box. Fabio Quagliarella lashed the ball home from 12 yards to restore parity in Turin.
An open start after the break saw Blaise Matuidi test Audero with a fizzing drive which the Juventus loanee was equal to, showing excellent reactions to palm the strike away. Juve’s pressure told as Gian Marco Ferrari was adjudged to have handled from a corner, giving Ronaldo the opportunity to restore Juve’s lead and double his tally for the afternoon.
With Juve seemingly seeing the game out, an under-hit pass from Mattia Perin gave Saponara the chance to equalise, with the Italian firing into the top corner spectacularly. VAR again took centre stage though as the strike was ruled out correctly for offside in a dramatic end to the game.
A concern for Allegri will be his side’s apparent reliance on their summer signing for a creative spark. The Bianconeri looked short of ideas in attack and were frustrated for large period by Sampdoria’s diligent defence, and were fortunate to be awarded a penalty for a harsh handball.