Sampdoria vs. Juventus: Winners and Losers from Serie A
Juventus made it nine Serie A wins in a row with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph away at Sampdoria.
The reigning champions in Italy broke the deadlock at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa when Paul Pogba's volley found the corner of the goal after 17 minutes.
They doubled their lead straight after half-time, with Paulo Dybala's beautiful pass down the middle gifting Sami Khedira the chance to poke the ball beyond Sampdoria goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.
However, the hosts gave themselves hope when Antonio Cassano scored 64 minutes.
Sampdoria pushed hard to find an equaliser, but the only thing they picked up in the closing stages was a red card. Niklas Moisander was dismissed in injury time for a late tackle on Juventus substitute Simone Zaza.
Here, Bleacher Report picks out the winners and losers from the game.
Winner: Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba produced a moment of real quality to break the deadlock in Genoa.
The France international didn’t quite catch his volleyed finish from the left side of the area, but he still directed it far enough away from the diving Viviano to find the bottom corner of the goal.
What made the strike special, however, was the touch that set it up. Pogba controlled a long ball from Leonardo Bonucci on his chest before spinning in the air to allow him to strike a volley with his left foot.
Of course, there was only one way for Pogba to celebrate scoring—break out the Dab dance move he loves so much he's had it shaved into his head.
Loser: Niklas Moisander
Defeat was a disappointing outcome for Sampdoria, but Niklas Moisander's dismissal in the closing minutes only rubbed salt into the wound.
The Finland international was shown a straight red after launching himself at Juventus forward Simone Zaza right in front of the visiting team’s bench.
The challenge was undoubtedly late, but referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni also deemed it dangerous.
Moisander—who moved to Serie A from Dutch club Ajax in July 2015 on a free transfer, per Transfermarkt.co.uk—was given his marching orders to leave the hosts to finish the game with only 10 men.
Juventus' defence of their Serie A title got off to a shaky start this season.
They won just once in their first six league outings, leaving them languishing in the table's bottom half. It was a worrying time, but the club did not panic.
Now, after the 2-1 triumph at Sampdoria, Massimiliano Allegri's squad have won nine on the spin. Per OptaPaolo on Twitter: "Juventus have recovered nine league position in the last nine Serie A games."
They find themselves sitting second in the table at the campaign's halfway stage, with Napoli two points above them in the standings.
Only three points separate the top four teams, but Juventus know better than any side that is a marathon, not a sprint. They also know how to reach the finish line at the front of the pack.
Loser: Alvaro Morata
Alvaro Morata's goal drought continues after he drew a blank against Sampdoria. The Spanish striker has still not found the net since the 3-1 win over Bologna on Oct 4.
Given the chance to start in Mario Mandzukic's absence, the former Real Madrid player worked tirelessly for the team.
However, he missed a golden opportunity to not only get back on the scoresheet but also to put the visitors 3-0 up just after the hour-mark.
Hernanes' superb cross from the right picked out Morata, who had broken clear of the home side's offside trap. But, with only Viviano to beat, he planted his header inches wide.
Winner: Antonio Cassano
Antonio Cassano scored his first goal since rejoining Sampdoria when he found the net after 64 minutes.
It was a crumb of comfort for Vincenzo Montella's side as they came up short in their bid to claw back a two-goal deficit.
The veteran striker exchanged passes with Carlos Carbonero before steering an instinctive low shot beyond Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
He certainly impressed Juventus manager Allegri, who told Sky Sport Italia and Mediaset Premium (h/t Football-Italia.net): "I compliment Antonio Cassano, as he had an extraordinary performance tonight, proving he’s immensely talented and still one of the most technically gifted players in Italy."
Loser: Roberto Soriano
Sampdoria captain Roberto Soriano was his side's hero in the 3-2 win over rivals Genoa on Jan. 5.
The midfielder scored twice in the midweek derby triumph, taking his tally for the Serie A season to six. That is already his most productive league campaign in terms of goals, per OptaPaolo on Twitter.
However, Soriano saw his involvement against Juventus cut short by injury.
Suffering from dizziness after an aerial collision, David Ivan replaced him after 37 minutes of the game at Stadio Luigi Ferraris.