Juventus edged a dramatic contest with Roma 2-1 on Sunday evening to take their place at the top of the Serie A table, capitalising on Inter dropping points against Atalanta.
The game started at a frenetic pace and it took just two minutes for the reigning champions to storm ahead as centre back Merih Demiral beautifully converted Paulo Dybala’s inch perfect delivery, stunning Stadio Olimpico.
Juventus were made to pay for not putting the game to bed just after the hour mark when Alex Sandro was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. Diego Perotti rifled the resulting penalty into the top corner to offer the hosts hope.
Ronaldo should have restored his side’s two-goal cushion with about 15 minutes remaining but flashed his header wide of the post, while Gonzalo Higuain’s offside goal mattered little. Aleksandar Kolarov saw his close range header comfortably saved moments later as Roma late charge ended fruitless.
The result means the current champions take their place at the top of the table in their search for yet another Scudetto.
Starting XI: Lopez (5); Florenzi (6), Mancini (6), Smalling (6), Kolarov (5); Diawara (6), Veretout (4), Zaniolo (6), Pellegrini (5), Perotti (6); Dzeko (5).
Substitutes: Under (4), Cristante (4), Kalinic (5).
Key Talking Point
Maurizio Sarri’s side knew victory would lift them to the summit of the Serie A table following Inter’s slip-up. But it wasn’t going to be easy to dispatch a spirited Roma at Stadio Olimpico, especially with the hosts knowing a point would return them to the Champions League places.
Juventus couldn’t have made a better start, striking twice in the opening ten minutes and putting Roma to the sword. The visitors looked in high spirits from the first kick and their clinical performance against Cagliari in their previous outing had evidently buoyed I Bianconeri.
Seldom were the visitors tested in the first half, despite forfeiting significant periods of possession to their hosts, and there was an arrogance and grace in which Juve strutted around the pitch.
However, the second half wasn’t quite as simple. Despite seemingly having a stranglehold on the match, several lapses in concentration at the back gifted Roma an unlikely route back into the game, something that will deeply concern Sarri.
The visitors made life unnecessarily difficult for themselves but ultimately all that mattered was taking advantage of Inter’s underwhelming draw against Atalanta and returning to the top of the table. It was a strong performance for the majority, but against a more clinical opponent the Old Lady could have come unstuck.
Starting XI: Szczesny (7); Cuadrado (6), Demiral (6), Bonucci (7), Sandro (6); Rabiot (6), Pjanic (7), Matuidi (6), Ramsey (7); Dybala (8), Ronaldo (8*).
Substitutes: De Ligt (7), Higuain (6), Danilo (5).
STAR PLAYER – Who else?
While there were many fantastic performances from his teammates, Ronaldo stood head and shoulders above the rest with his penalty proving the difference between the sides.
The 34-year-old’s link-up play was superb, while his pace and power wrecked havoc for Roma’s back four throughout the 90 minutes.
The forward added to his hat trick against Cagliari last time out with another stellar showing, even if he could have scored a few more on Sunday evening.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored against every Serie A team he has played against in less than 2 seasons. Can we just admit that this man is the beast of no nation? Setting records in different countries and breaking it all by himself!! The real GOAT! #RomaJuve
— DRIVING SCHOOL DROPOUT ™ (@eniturn) January 12, 2020
Ronaldo is unbelievably amazing. Makes me want to believe he created this sport lol.
— AG BABY (@adekunleGOLD) January 6, 2020
Roma face a trip to Parma in the Coppa Italia midweek before visiting Genoa in their next Serie A match. Juventus host Udinese in the cup on Wednesday before hosting Parma at the weekend.