Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brace as Juventus returned to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Crotone to keep Andrea Pirlo’s men in the Serie A title race.
The pressure was on the Old Lady following back-to-back defeats to Napoli and Porto, but the defending Italian champions secured a much-needed result to take them up to third place, eight points behind pace-setters Inter.
Juventus dominated the majority of the first half, but had to wait until the 38th minute to make the breakthrough, with Ronaldo heading home an Alex Sandro cross from deep.
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And Ronaldo doubled his, and Juventus’, advantage soon after, this time powering a header into the back of the Crotone net after Aaron Ramsey had staged a cross for the Portuguese forward to attack.
Ronaldo was presented with a golden opportunity to complete a quick-fire hat trick before the break, but he somehow stuck his finish wide when the goal was gaping. Weston McKennie, however, did add a third for Juventus in the second half as the hosts swept aside Crotone.
Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus-Crotone - Serie A 2020/2021 - Getty Images
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - Juventus’ midfield unit provide some answers amid doubt
If there is one area of Pirlo’s Juventus team that has come under more scrutiny than any other, it’s the midfield. It’s in the centre of the pitch where the Old Lady’s lack of identity and clear approach is most obvious, but this was a better display by the men in the middle. Aaron Ramsey offered drive while Federico Chiesa was given the freedom to drift wherever he saw space to be exploited. Pirlo is still lacking a central anchor, but there were at least some signs of encouragement from this midfield unit.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
While Chiesa was arguably Juventus’ most creative player throughout, it was Ronaldo who made the biggest difference by providing the finishing touches in front of goal. The Portuguese forward now has 17 goals in 18 Serie A appearances this season. If Juve are still in the Scudetto race, it’s only through the brilliance of Ronaldo who demonstrated how he has sharpened his game to be the perfect goalscorer with this performance. The only thing that was missing was the third goal for his hat trick.
Juventus: Buffon 6, Danilo 5, Demiral 5, De Ligt 7, Sandro 6, Chiesa 8, Bentancur 5, McKennie 7, Ramsey 7, Kulusevski 6, Ronaldo 8. Subs: Morata 5, Bernardeschi 5, Frabotta 3, Fagioli 4, Di Pardo 3.
Crotone: Cordaz 8, Pereira 5, Magallan 5, Golemic 5, Luperto 4, Messias 6, Molina 5, Vulic 5, Reca 6, Ounas 5, Di Carmine 4. Subs: Riviere 4, Simy 6, Rispoli 4, Marrone 4, Zanellato 3.
37’ Off the bar! Chiesa's cross to the back post finds Ramsey, but the Welsh midfielder could only direct his header off the crossbar. Cordaz might have got his fingertips to that! Juve getting closer!
38’ GOAL! Juventus 1-0 Crotone (Ronaldo): The breakthrough has come and it has gone Juventus' way! The cross into the box was a good one, the Portuguese forward lost his marker and headed into the back of the net! That goal had been coming for the defending Italian champions!
45+1’ GOAL! Juventus 2-0 Crotone (Ronaldo): Suddenly, Juventus have a two-goal lead and Ronaldo has grabbed a second! Ramsey stages the cross into the middle and Ronaldo was completely free and up high to power home a header! There was no way he was missing that!
45+2’ How did he miss?! Chiesa burst through the middle and then played a square ball for Ronaldo who looked set to finish into the net for his hat trick! But he's somehow put it wide of the post!
66’ GOAL! Juventus 3-0 Crotone (McKennie): There's the third goal for Juventus and it's McKennie who has found the back of the net! De Ligt knocks down a corner kick delivery to the back post and the American midfielder is on hand to fire home a powerful finish!
- Weston McKennie is now the highest scoring American (four) in Serie A history, overtaking Michael Bradley’s previous record of three goals.
- Crotone are the 78th team in Europe’s top five leagues that Cristiano Ronaldo has scored against. Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (79) has scored against more since 2000.
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