Cristiano Ronaldo scored a thumping penalty and created goals for Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain as Juventus hammered 10-man Lecce 4-0 on Friday to stretch their lead over Lazio at the top of Serie A to seven points.
Goals: Dybala 53′, Ronaldo (pen) 62′, Higuain 83′, De Ligt 85′.
Red card: Lucioni 32′.
Juventus were 2-0 winners over Bologna on Monday as they returned to action following the lockdown period in Italy’s top flight, but Lecce suffered a 4-1 home defeat to AC Milan. All is not completely well in Turin, though, after Juve lost in the Coppa Italia final to Napoli. Maurizio Sarri is again a man under pressure. The Old Lady had only one change to the side that beat Bologna last time out, with Blaise Matuidi coming in for Mattia De Sciglio. Cristiano Ronaldo was flanking Paolo Dybala up front.
Lecce had the first chance of the match. Lovely move on the counter resulted in Andrea Rispoli being presented with a good chance for Lecce, but he blazed over from a good position.
In 20th minute, Rabiot lined one from distance, and forced Gabriel in the away goal into a fine save.
About ten minutes later, Lecce’s Fabio Lucioni was sent off for a foul on Bentancur. The Juve midfielder caught Lucioni dallying on the ball, nipped in, Lucioni tripped him and the referee brandished the red card, deeming Lucioni to be the last man.
Even against 10 men, the hosts have been very poor. The sending off gave them the platform to lift their game, but the league leaders have remained very flat indeed. The Old Lady had 2 clear opportunities as Ronaldo took a free header from eight yards but couldn’t find the target and an incredible miss from Bernardeschi, after being picked out by a drilled Ronaldo cross. He was just two yards out, under the crossbar, but he somehow fired over!
Juventus attacked strongly at the beginning of the second half. In 49th minute, Bonucci got up highest, but Gabriel beats the ball away. But a few minutes later, finally Juventus had their goal. A poor defending from the visitors as they gave the ball away on the edge of their own penalty area, Ronaldo fed Dybala, who brilliantly found the top corner.
In the 61st minute, Ronaldo was sent tumbling in the penalty area by Rossettini and the referee pointed to the spot and penalty for Juve. It was Ronaldo that hammer it straight down the middle to make it two.
Lecce’s Falco replaced by Khouma Babacar. In the other side, Aaron Ramsey was on for Bentancur and he almost made an immediate impact, crossing for Ronaldo, who was denied by Gabriel. The visitors’ keeper continued to have a great save from the low shot of Ramsey in the 76th minute.
Then Dybala and Bernardeschi replaced by Gonzalo Higuain and Simone Muratore. Higuain got in on the act to make it three. Ronaldo would take the praise for the back-heel assist, but it was mighty fortunate to land at the feet of Higuain, who fired into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area.
“Until the sending off the match was balanced,” said Lecce coach Fabio Liverani, who also bemoaned the number of players he is missing through injury. “Maybe if we had had every player available, I could have made different moves. At the moment I have a maximum of 14 players available. But I am sure that with a bit of fortune, getting some players back, we can have our say in matches against direct rivals.”
Juventus, bidding for their ninth successive Italian title, moved to 69 points after 28 games, seven clear of Lazio who have a match in hand.
Lecce remained third bottom on 25 points, behind Genoa on goal difference and one point adrift of Sampdoria in 16th spot.
Juventus: Szczesny, De Ligt, Bonucci, Matuidi, Cuadrado, Rabiot, Pjanic, Betancur, Bernardeschi, Ronaldo, Dybala.
Lecce: Gabriel, Rispoli, Lucioni, Rossettini, Calderoni, Petriccione, Tachtsidis, Mancosu, Falco, Saponara, Babacar.