Despite McKennie’s exuberance and Rugani’s defensive resolve, Saturday’s bout was headed for a forgettable stalemate.
Allegri’s 4-4-2 with Adrien Rabiot performing the hybrid function hadn’t worked (again, it’s borderline insanity now) and star man Paulo Dybala was enduring one of those off nights. The manager, however, was reluctant to use his bench, perhaps believing that a point against a pretty good Fiorentina team would suffice (it wouldn’t).
Nevertheless, after Milenkovic’s dismissal, Allegri finally made the change Juventini around the globe were crying out for. Rabiot was replaced by Juan Cuadrado with Chiesa switching over to the left.
With the visitors a man down, sustained Bianconeri pressure ensued for the first time in the contest. They came close on several occasions through Chiesa, who almost shattered the crossbar with a wicked attempt, but back-up goalkeeper Pietro Terraciano didn’t exactly have to exert himself.
That was until substitute Cuadrado conjured something out of nothing. In the 91st minute of proceedings, the Colombian stood up Biraghi inside the Fiorentina box. His samba stepovers refused to unbalance the left-back, but a shift towards the byline did. The space had been worked but the angle was a tight one. Cuadrado went for it, nonetheless. His strike was fierce and too hot for an untested Terracciano to handle at the near post as the ball rippled the back of the net.
Out of nothing, Juventus had snatched all three points and it was all down to the magic of an ex-Fiorentina man – one of few Juve stars who have previously donned the Viola jersey. Cuadrado’s been such a consistent performer for the Old Lady in recent years and infrequently pops up with clutch moments just like Saturday night’s winner.
There’s no doubting that it’s been a tough start to the season for the Bianconeri veteran, but he deserved that moment.