Adrien Rabiot’s controversial strike helped to spare Juventus’ blushes as they beat bottom side Sampdoria 4-2 in Serie A.
The France international put his team 3-2 ahead in a tight contest at the Allianz Stadium with his second goal, despite appearing to control the ball with his arm before volleying in.
Gleison Bremer and Rabiot both scored headers to put Massimiliano Allegri’s side into a 2-0 lead, but Sampdoria responded by striking twice in as many minutes through Tommaso Augello and Filip Djuricic before half-time.
Rabiot restored the hosts’ advantage after the break though and despite Dusan Vlahovic’s missed penalty, Juve held out for an eighth-straight home win over the Blucerchiati as substitute Matias Soule added a late fourth.
9 – Since 2019/20 only Virgil van Dijk (10) has scored more header goals than #Bremer (9) amongst the defenders in the top-5 European Leagues. Mountain.#JuveSamp #SerieA pic.twitter.com/mlAObDAUgz
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) March 12, 2023
Despite a nervy start, Juventus broke the deadlock after 11 minutes as Bremer towered above the defence to head home Filip Kostic’s corner.
Another header doubled the hosts’ lead in the 26th minute when Rabiot buried Fabio Miretti’s inviting cross.
But Sampdoria – this season’s lowest scorers in the top five European leagues before Sunday – responded five minutes later with Augello neatly guiding in Mehdi Leris’ deflected centre.
And within 72 seconds, they were level as Djuricic arrived late in the box to steer home Alessandro Zanoli’s low cross.
Juve controversially regained the lead in the 64th minute, the VAR awarding Rabiot a second goal despite the ball seeming to strike the midfielder’s arm before he brilliantly volleyed into the top corner.
Vlahovic missed an opportunity to kill off the contest, his penalty striking the post after Augello felled substitute Juan Cuadrado, but the hosts did seal the points in stoppage time, Soule nodding in his first senior goal after Vlahovic’s initial header was tipped onto the crossbar.
What does it mean? Juve close the gap on the top four
Juventus were certainly given a scare by their beleaguered opponents, who arrived in Turin on a 10-match winless streak and having scored just once in four games.
Indeed, Sampdoria’s quickfire double marked the closest amount of time in which the Bianconeri have conceded two goals in a Serie A match since letting in two within 61 seconds against Chievo in May 2011.
However, their quality eventually prevailed as they cut the deficit on fourth-place Milan to nine points.
Back-to-back home goals for Bremer
Having also netted against former club Torino last time out in Serie A, Bremer broke the deadlock with an authoritative header in the 11th minute.
The centre-half has now scored nine headed goals since the start of the 2019-20 season, with only Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (10) registering more amongst defenders in the top five European leagues.
The Vlahovic drought goes on
Despite a game-high eight shots on goal, Vlahovic has now gone five successive Serie A matches without scoring for the first time in his career.
Try as he may – including that missed penalty – the striker also saw a game-high four attempts blocked, and his frustration was evident as his efforts reaped no rewards.
Juventus switch their focus to the Europa League on Thursday when they travel to Freiburg for the second leg of their last-16 tie with a 1-0 advantage. Meanwhile, Sampdoria desperately seek their first home league win of the season against Verona next Sunday.
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