MILAN, Feb 11: Cristiano Ronaldo headed in his 18th league goal this season as Juventus bounced back from last week’s stalemate to soar to an 11-point lead in Serie A on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.
Juventus players celebrate after defeating Sassuolo during the Serie A match at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio, Italy.
Ronaldo proved decisive, scoring after 70 minutes as Sami Khedira found the net first in Modena with fellow German Emre Can slotting in the third four minutes from time.
The Serie A champions had been held by Parma last week despite the Portuguese forward’s double.
Now they have left second-placed Napoli trailing after Carlo Ancelotti’s side were held to a goalless draw at Fiorentina on Saturday.
Paulo Dybala again started on the bench coming on late for the champions, to help set up the third goal, with coach Massimiliano Allegri saying he needed to find the right balance.
“Ronaldo and Dybala can certainly play together and they will do, but we need everyone to work hard in order to keep the team balanced,” said Allegri.
“It all depends on who you are playing against. Sassuolo have a strong midfield, so I had to balance my team that way today.
“Players are disappointed, but every now and then sitting on the bench is necessary to recharge batteries and rediscover the right mental toughness.”
Juventus had started slowly with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saving twice in the opening minutes as the champions were without injured defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
Both are fighting to be fit for Juventus’s European Champions League last 16 trip to Atletico Madrid in 10 days’ time. – AFP