VAR was at the centre of the battle between Juventus and Sampdoria at the Allianz Stadium in Serie A’s Saturday lunch match, wherein the Old Lady just about ran out 2-1 winners.
Samp were the first to profit from referee Paolo Valeri taking a second look at a corner that ended up being handled by Emre Can, then awarding a penalty for the visitors.
Juve had their own penalty awarded for a more controversial call in the second half and Marco Giampaolo’s side were ultimately victims of the technology’s implementation, with Riccardo Saponara having a goal chopped off in time added on.
The low December sun appeared to play its part in the opening goal as Juventus took an early lead. Cristiano Ronaldo was back in the starting XI having been left out in Bergamo on Wednesday and it didn’t take him long to show why he is so important to the Old Lady.
Ronaldo received the ball on the edge of the box and his shot across goal seemed somewhat tame but Samp’s Emil Audero, who is on loan from Juve, lost sight of its track and was unable to turn the ball away from goal, only helping it on its way into the net.
As the half wore on though, Samp began to find their feet and looked to cause some problems for their hosts and were awarded a penalty after a VAR consultation showed Paolo Valeri that he had missed a Can handball.
The eternal Quagliarella stepped up and duly dispatched from 12-yards, marking a ninth consecutive Serie A match in which he has scored.
Offended, angered and woken, the beast of Juventus came out in the second half baying for Blucerchiati blood.
Audero was forced to redeem his early error and the Indonesian-Italian was busy in the opening 15 minutes of the second half as he saw his goal peppered by the champions.
First, he reacted very well to deny a low and powerful Blaise Matuidi volley, before pulling off another excellent save to deny Cristiano Ronaldo.
Then the hosts were awarded a spot-kick of their own; a cross fell and hit the arm of Alex Ferrari who didn’t appear capable of doing anything to stop it doing so as his hands were by his side but, even upon consulting the pitchside monitor, Valeri awarded the penalty.
Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up and expectedly converted, making Samp’s task near impossible with Juve not conceding two goals at home in their last 23 games.
Stoppage time specialist Riccardo Saponara seemed to again save Sampdoria late on with an excellent finish, only to be thwarted by the technology.
Not long after coming off the bench, the playmaker picked up the ball on the edge of the box and beautifully dispatched a left-footed strike into the top corner, but more VAR interference showed he had been offside earlier in the move.
- Juventus picked up 101 points in 2018, which is a record in Italian football. Had Torino’s 1948 side been awarded three points per win, the two would be level.
- Already with 53 points this season, Juve have enjoyed the best ever start by a team in Serie A.
- Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal was the Old Lady’s 100th of 2018, outscoring every other Italian side.
- Fabio Quagliarella has now scored in nine successive Serie A matches. The last to do this was David Trezeguet in 2005.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has been incolved in at least one goal in eight of his last ten home matches for Juve – scoring six and assisting five.
- Juve and Samp have had the most penalties awarded to them in 2018 – eight.
- In their last 23 home games in Serie A, Juventus have gathered 63 of the 69 points available.