Juventus remained top of Serie A after long-time leaders AS Roma spurned the chance to overtake the champions following a scoreless home draw to struggling Cagliari on Monday.
Juventus’s 2-0 away win at AS Livorno on Sunday sent Antonio Conte’s men top of the pile for the first time this season with a two-point lead over Rudy Garcia’s men.
Roma were widely expected to retake the lead, but despite dominating the Sardinians at the Stadio Olimpico the Giallorossi were left counting the cost for failing to get the ball past impressive Cagliari goalkeeper Vlada Avramov.
To add to their woes, Garcia was sent to the stands with 18 minutes remaining after an altercation on the touchline.
“Maybe I was just too involved in the game,” Garcia told Sky Sport Italia. “This was an unexpected result. People often say if you can’t win the next best thing is not to lose, but we had a really good game, created a lot of chances and in the end showed that the best player on the park was their goalkeeper.”
What will go down as a stirring performance from Cagliari was also one that was to help soothe the pain brought by flash floods which swept through the island last week, killing 16 people, coach Diego Lopez said.
“Last week we suffered a catastrophe ... the lads ran their legs into the ground tonight to help pay tribute to the people of Sardinia,” Lopez said. “The point we took tonight was also for them.”
It was the first time this season Cagliari had kept a clean sheet and Lopez added: “It’s difficult to come to a ground such as this. I asked a lot of my defense tonight and I’m really happy because it’s our first game this season without conceding a goal.”
Roma welcomed Gervinho back to the fray following a month on the sidelines and after just five minutes the Ivorian striker broke through the defense, only to be denied by Avramov at the goalkeeper’s near post.
Maicon saw a shot stopped five minutes later and the Brazilian defender was later involved in a move which set up Miralem Pjanic, only for the Bosnian to miss the target.
Cagliari had shown some threat earlier in the half, but came closest when Victor Ibarbo’s header was met with a superb one-handed save by Roma goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis.
Roma then spurned two chances just before the break, Gervinho hitting the upright with a header from close range and then Alessandro Florenzi seeing his half-volley blocked by Avramov.
Six minutes after the restart Maicon came close again, but saw Avramov pull off a superb save to deny his swerving strike.
Roma were frustrated for almost the remainder of the half and Cagliari were next to threaten five minutes from time, only for De Sanctis to parry Sebastian Eriksson’s drive.
Roma then spurned the chance for a late winner when Avramov parried Leandro Castan’s goal-bound header.
Juventus have a one-point lead over Roma, with SSC Napoli remaining third a further five points adrift.