TURIN (Reuters) - Paulo Dybala scored after 44 seconds for Juventus but they were made to struggle in a 3-1 win over a brave Cagliari team as they stayed six points clear in Serie A on Saturday.
Juventus, who have won 10 of their 11 league games, needed the help of an own goal by Filip Bradaric after Joao Pedro had equalised for Cagliari.
Juan Cuadrado wrapped up the points with a late goal set up by Cristiano Ronaldo, shortly after Cagliari had come close to making it 2-2.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri was far from satisfied, however, complaining that eight goals conceded was too many.
“We need to improve our defensive play especially in the middle of the field,” said Allegri, whose side host Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“We allow too many crosses. It isn’t good enough. Even after the first goal, we drifted out of the game. The sensation is we are less solid and the numbers confirm that.”
Dybala gave Juve the perfect start when he received a pass on the edge of the penalty area, twisted one way and then the other and, despite slipping as he struck the ball, scored with a right-foot shot past Alessio Cragno.
Cagliari fought back and, after having a penalty appeal for handball turned down following a VAR review, forced Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny into a point-blank save to block a Leonardo Pavoletti volley.
The Sardinian side deservedly levelled in the 36th minute when Joao Pedro controlled Darijo Srna’s cross with an excellent first touch before beating Szczesny with a low drive.
But Juve were gifted a goal less than two minutes later by Bradaric who, under no immediate pressure, slid in and diverted Douglas Costa’s low cross into the net.
Ronaldo, who hit the post on the stroke of halftime, laid the third on a plate for Juan Cuadrado with three minutes left after Cagliari were exposed on the counter-attack.
It came minutes after Medhi Benatia prevented an equaliser with a last-ditch block from Pavoletti.
Juve have 31 points out of a possible 33 with Inter Milan, who beat Genoa 5-0 earlier on Saturday, and Napoli, 5-1 winners over Empoli on Friday, both on 25.
Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Martyn Herman and Ed Osmond