17 July 2019, Wednesday | 03:45am

Kean on target for Juve despite racist abuse in Cagliari


MILAN: Rising Italy star Moise Kean was targeted by racist abuse after he continued his goal-scoring spree to push Juventus closer to an eighth consecutive Serie A title on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Cagliari.

Kean, 19, slotted in his fourth goal in as many league games in the 85th minute after defender Leonardo Bonucci nodded in the opener on 22 minutes in Sardinia.

The youngster’s celebration after scoring, however, infuriated the Sardinian crowd who had jeered the teenager throughout after he was booked for diving in the first half.

During the match, Kean, along with his French teammate Blaise Matuidi and Brazilian Alex Sandro, had been targeted by monkey noises, but these increased in intensity after the second goal.

Kean celebrated with his hands outstretched in front of the Cagliari fans after scoring.

But Bonucci claimed that Kean should not have provoked the home supporters and said his teammate was partly to blame for the unsavoury scenes.

Juventus' Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci (right) scores a header against Cagliari. - AFP

“Kean knows that when he scores a goal, he should celebrate that with his teammates. He knows he could have done something differently too,” Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia.

“There were racist jeers after the goal, Blaise heard it and was angered. I think the blame is 50-50, because Moise shouldn’t have done that and the Curva (Cagliari fans) should not have reacted that way.

“We are professionals, we have to set the example and not provoke anyone.”

Cagliari fans appeared to throw objects at Kean, and the match was momentarily stopped and an appeal made over the speakers, while Matuidi reacting furiously to the jeers at the same stadium where he was targeted last season.

The abuse came on the day that UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he will ask referees to stop matches in the future when there is racist chanting.

“As usual, there are some idiots, but also normal people,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“We have cameras, we identify and ban them.”

Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini, however, blamed Kean for stirring up tensions.

Juventus' Blaise Matuidi (right) reacts as Rodrigo Bentancur (left) picks up projectiles thrown by Cagliari's fans after Juventus' Moise Kean scored against Cagliari at the Sardignia Arena in Cagliari. --AFP

“If (Federico) Bernardeschi had done what Kean did, the reaction would have been the same,” said Giulini.

“Nobody had heard anything up to that point. Kean made a mistake, he’s 19, that’s understandable,” he added, saying he “mostly heard whistles.”

“There is a drift towards self-righteousness that I don’t like, this club has always been exemplary and has always denounced racist behaviour.”

The win put Juventus back 18 points clear of second-placed Napoli, who travel to lowly Empoli on Wednesday, with only eight matches to play.

The champions’ next game is at home against AC Milan, who were earlier held 1-1 by Udinese.

Juventus shrugged off the absences of injured star strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, with Mario Mandzukic also out suffering from flu.

Italy defender Bonucci headed in his third league goal of the season from a Bernardeschi corner.

Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno denied Kean twice before the teenager finally broke through, with Rodrigo Bentancur rolling the ball across for him to tap in.

Udinese's Kevin Lasagna (2nd-left) celebrates with Seko Fofana (left) and Ignacio Pussetto after scoring an equaliser against AC Milan. - AFP

Kevin Lasagna grabbed a point for Udinese to further dent AC Milan’s Champions League ambitions.

Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek managed to break through just before the interval after connecting with a Patrick Cutrone cross.

But Italian international Lasagna pulled Udinese back level after finishing off a flowing counter-attack on 65 minutes.

The stalemate complicates the Champions League race for Gennaro Gattuso’s side who are targeting a return to the competition for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.

AC Milan's Krzysztof Piatek celebrates scoring their first goal against Udinese. - Reuters

They occupy fourth place, the final Champions League spot, but Lazio are four points behind with two games in hand ahead of their trip to struggling SPAL on Wednesday.

“In a season a team can have highs and lows. We had five wins in a row and now we’ve a bad moment,” said Gattuso, a two-time Champions League winner with Milan as a player.

“When you are not brilliant the ball starts to weigh 120 kilos. Today we did little, I saw a sluggish team in the second half.”--AFP

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