Serie A: Juventus begin title defence with win over Cagliari
By Dan Long & PA Sport
Last Updated: 19/08/17 10:43pm
Juventus launched their bid for a seventh successive Serie A title with a routine 3-0 home win over Cagliari.
Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain all found the net in a comfortable victory, although Diego Farias missed a penalty for the visitors. Juve needed just 12 minutes to take control, Mandzukic drilling home with a low shot after good approach play from Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Dybala curled wide from distance as Juve continued to push for a second goal, but the hosts were quickly pinned back as Cagliari rallied. First Farias saw a sound effort well saved, then Paolo Farago blasted well over the bar.
And when Alex Sandro upended Duje Cop, Cagliari had a penalty and their finest chance for an equaliser. Farias' spot-kick was saved comfortably however, and after that Juve quickly regained control. Miralem Pjanic played in Dybala and the Argentina forward did the rest, firing into the top corner to double the hosts' lead.
Dybala hit the bar after good work from Cuadrado as Juve picked up the pace after the break. Sandro then atoned for conceding the penalty by teeing up Higuain for Juve's third, with the Argentina hitman slotting home with ease.
France midfielder Blaise Matuidi joined the fray late on for his Juve debut, fresh from his midweek switch from Paris Saint-Germain. The new recruit laid on one long-range effort for Dybala, but the hosts wound up happy to settle for their three goals.
Napoli started the season in confident form also, beating promoted Hellas Verona 3-1; Samuel Souprayen's own goal after 32 minutes gave visitors Napoli the dream start.
Goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Faouzi Ghoulam put Maurizio Sarri's men even further in front, before Elseid Hysajs' rash foul on Daniel Bessa earned him an early bath the hosts a spot-kick.
Giampaolo Pazzini converted the penalty with seven minutes remaining, but it was little more than a consolation.