MILAN, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Juventus began their quest for a seventh successive Serie A title with a 3-0 home win over Cagliari on Saturday after the Sardinians missed a penalty awarded with the help of a video replay.
Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain scored for the Turin side in the match which kicked off the Serie A season, but the game could have taken a different course if Diego Farias had converted a spot kick for Cagliari when they were 1-0 behind.
Mandzukic broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when he volleyed in from Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross.
Serie A is among the leagues which are trialling the use of video assistant referees (VAR) this season and they were brought into action for the first time just after the half hour mark at the Allianz Stadium.
Cagliari found their way into the Juve area, Duje Cop went down under a challenge from Alex Sandro and the ball ran on to Farias who sent a deflected shot over the crossbar.
Referee Fabio Maresca awarded a corner, however after consulting with the VAR, he went over to the television monitor on the touch line, returned to the pitch, drew a television in the air and pointed to the spot.
Juventus protested but needn’t have worried as a weak Farias penalty was comfortably saved by Juve’s 39-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Instead of going in level at half-time, Cagliari found themselves 2-0 down when Miralem Pjanic hoisted a ball over the opposition backline to Dybala who chested it down and struck it past Alessio Cragno.
Higuain added the third in the 66th minute with a typically clinical finish after a sweeping passing move.
Juventus coasted through the rest of the game and gave debuts to newcomers Douglas Costa and Blaise Matuidi, although 40 million euro ($47 million) signing Federico Bernardeschi remained on the bench.
Soccer’s law-making body the International Football Association Board (IFAB) authorised trials of VAR last year and is due to make a final decision on whether to approve their use permanently in March. ($1 = 0.8503 euros) (Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Christian Radnedge)