Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace helped Juventus take advantage of Inter’s slip up at Lecce with a narrow 2-1 win over Parma, sending the hosts four points clear at the top of Serie A.
Both sides were restricted to half-chances in the opening stages – the best of which fell to Alex Sandro and Ronaldo for the Old Lady, with the latter stinging the palms of Luigi Sepe in the Parma goal.
Eventually Juve’s pressing and probing paid dividends, Ronaldo’s deflected strike giving the hosts a 1-0 lead at the break, while Aaron Ramsey struck the base of the post moments before the half-time whistle, much to the frustration of those in the Allianz.
I Bianconeri looked significantly brighter after the restart and could have had a second when substitute Danilo’s wicked effort was wonderfully tipped on to the post by Sepe. But Parma had other ideas, equalising through Andreas Cornelius’ marvellous header shortly after and punishing the hosts for their wastefulness in the final third.
However, Ronaldo added his second only three minutes later, converting a well-worked move and putting Juventus back in the driving seat with half an hour remaining. Chances came and went for both sides as the game wore on with nerves jangling around Turin, but the hosts held on for a crucial victory to build a four-point cushion between themselves and Inter at the top of Serie A.
Key Talking Point
For a second week in a row Juventus went in to their Sunday night game hoping to capitalise on the mistakes of Inter to assert their dominance at the top of Serie A. However, the hosts lacked a little precision in the final third and were limited to mere half-chances by Parma, despite the visitors struggling to get any consistent possession.
Ronaldo‘s late first-half goal may have somewhat papered over the cracks for Juventus, but Maurizio Sarri would have been undoubtedly concerned by the lack of creativity and end product from his side, who only narrowly led at the break in spite of their dominance on the ball.
The Juventus manager’s worst fears were confirmed just minutes after the restart, conceding from a simple set-piece and once again relying on Ronaldo magic to lift them out of the darkness. Luckily for Sarri he has the Portuguese attacker to rescue his side, as without him they would have wasted the glorious opportunities offered up to them by title rivals Inter over the past week.
It’s far from ‘Sarri-ball’, but the three points ultimately matter a great deal more than performance levels at this crucial stage of the season. A much-needed victory offers Juve a little breathing space at the summit of Serie A, as muscle memory begins to kick in for the current champions.
Starting XI: Szczesny (7), Cuadrado (6), De Ligt (7), Bonucci (6), Sandro (5); Rabiot (6), Pjanic (6), Matuidi (6), Ramsey (5); Dybala (6), Ronaldo (8*).
Substitutes: Danilo (6), Higuain (5), Costa (5)
Despite an increasingly ridiculous haircut, Ronaldo once again showed us why he is still one of the world’s best.
The attacker’s brace helped Juventus triumph regardless of their somewhat toothless performance and he consistently looked the hosts’ most creative outlet. The 34-year-old continues to steal the show week after week with his stellar performances, and looks as if he could play for many years to come in Serie A.
Great strength from Ronaldo to create a goal out of nothing
The magnificent number 7 has now scored in 7 straight Serie A games!
Can’t stop scoring
— CR7 Rap Rhymes (@cr7raprhymes) January 19, 2020
RONALDO DOES IT AGAIN! Unstoppable.
— Matteo Bonetti (@BonettiESPN) January 19, 2020
Starting XI: Sepe (7); Darmian (7), Iacoponi (6), Alves (7), Gagliolo (6); Kucka (6), Hernani (5), Scozzarella (6); Kulusevski (6), Inglese (5), Kurtic (6)
Substitutes: Cornelius (7), Sprocati (5), Siligardi (N/A)
Juventus host Roma in the quarter-final of the Coppa Italia this Wednesday evening before facing a tricky trip to Napoli in their next Serie A outing. Meanwhile, Parma are no longer in the Coppa Italia and don’t play until Sunday when they clash with Udinese.