Serie A roundup: Super League entrant Juventus struggles again, Cagliari stuns Roma to climb out of drop zone

There’s been nothing “super” over the past six rounds from nine-time defending Serie A champion Juventus, which was one of the clubs leading the charge for the breakaway Super League.

The draw did little to boost Juve’s chances of securing a top-four position and a Champions League place, while Cagliari and Atalanta had reason for cheer this weekend.   -  Getty Images

A loss at home to promoted Benevento. A draw with city rival Torino. Another defeat at Atalanta.

And now a 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened Fiorentina.

There’s been nothing “super” over the past six rounds from nine-time defending Serie A champion Juventus, which was one of the clubs leading the charge for the breakaway European Super League.

In fact, it was almost laughable when hotly sought transfer target Dušan Vlahović put Fiorentina ahead with a softly struck “Panenka”-style penalty kick midway through the first half Sunday. Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny was left helpless on the ground as Vlahović’s effort sailed over him into the center of the goal.

READ: Juventus acted openly in Super League talks, says director Paratic

It was the 17th goal this season for the 21-year-old Vlahović, who is being linked with a move to AC Milan.

“It was a terrible first half. We should have started in a different manner, because this was a fundamental game in the race for the Champions League places,” Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said. “But we were too slow, our spacing was all wrong and we were always second to the ball.

“The second half was a bit better,” Pirlo added.

Halftime substitute Álvaro Morata equalized for Juventus 31 seconds after the break from the right flank. It appeared that the Spanish forward was attempting to cross but the ball surprised Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartłomiej Drągowski, who could only get a weak hand on it before it sailed into the far corner.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a chance for a possible winner but appeared to misjudge his effort to head in a cross from Dejan Kulusevski and completely missed the ball.

Juventus also struggled against Fiorentina in December, losing 3-0 at home.

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The draw did little to boost Juve’s chances of securing a top-four position and a Champions League place.

“You learn with every game that goes by, but I am not happy considering the initial expectations and I don’t think the club is either,” said Pirlo, who is in his first season as a coach.

Atalanta moves past 10-man Bologna

Atalanta thrashed 10-man Bologna 5-0 in Bergamo on Sunday to move into second place in Serie A and extend its unbeaten league run to seven games.

The victory leaves Gian Piero Gasperini’s side on 68 points from 33 games, 11 adrift of runaway leaders Inter Milan but two ahead of AC Milan and Juventus. Milan have a game in hand at Lazio on Monday.

Ruslan Malinovskyi latched on to an inspired backheel from Luis Muriel to rifle home the opener after 22 minutes and Muriel converted a penalty just before halftime to double the lead.

The Colombian striker set a personal record for goals, with 19, and assists, with eight, in a single Serie A season.

Any hope of Bologna getting back in the game disappeared when Jerdy Schouten was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Cristian Romero early in the second half.

Remo Freuler and Duvan Zapata scored in the space of two minutes to put the hosts out of sight before substitute Aleksey Miranchuk completed the rout with a well-placed shot into the bottom corner.

Bologna fell to 12th place on 38 points after Udinese’s 4-2 win at Benevento earlier on Sunday saw it move to 39 points.

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Inter Milan moved a step closer to its first title in more than a decade with a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona.

The victory moved the Nerazzurri 13 points clear of Milan and Juventus with five rounds remaining.

Inter, which had drawn its previous two games, extended its unbeaten run to 17 matches.

Inter fullback Matteo Darmian took a through ball from Achraf Hakimi and scored with a low, angled shot in the 76th.

Having joined on loan from Parma in October, Darmian also scored a decisive goal earlier this month in a 1-0 win over Cagliari.

Cagliari stuns Roma to climb out of Serie A drop zone

Cagliari moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-2 win over Europa League semifinalist AS Roma at the Sardegna Arena on Sunday, stretching its winning run to three games.

Leonardo Semplici’s side moved to 31 points and above Benevento into 17th place on goal difference. There are now three points separating both teams from Fiorentina in 14th.

Teams level on points are ranked by their head-to-head record at the end of the season, making Benevento's clash with Cagliari in two weeks' time hugely significant, after Filippo Inzaghi's side won their last meeting 2-1 in January.

Charalambos Lykogiannis fired the hosts in front after four minutes, but Carles Perez equalised before the break.

Cagliari pulled away with a swerving Razvan Marin strike and Joao Pedro header. Roma's Federico Fazio pulled one back with a header but the capital club failed to complete a comeback.

Pedro’s goal made him the first Brazilian to score at least 15 times in two consecutive Serie A seasons since AC Milan great Kaka between 2007 and 2009.

Roma, which visits Manchester United in the first leg of its Europa League semifinal on Thursday, risk losing seventh place after picking up one point from its last three league games.

Paulo Fonseca’s side is three points ahead of Sassuolo, which has won four consecutive matches, with five games to go.

- Reuters