Ronaldo penalty double sends Juventus six points clear
Cristiano Ronaldo stretched his scoring streak to nine consecutive league games with a penalty double on Sunday as Juventus bounced back from last weekend’s defeat to Napoli with a 3-0 win over Fiorentina.
The Portuguese striker slotted in both his goals from the spot in either half in Turin with Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt heading in a third in injury time.
Maurizio Sarri’s side opened up a six-point lead at the top of the Serie A table on second-placed Inter Milan, who travel to lowly Udinese later on Sunday.
Juventus had fallen to just their second defeat of the season last weekend at Sarri’s former club Napoli, despite Ronaldo scoring.
“Cristiano Ronaldo continues to score repeatedly and for him it’s important psychologically,” said Sarri of the player who turns 35 years old next Wednesday.
“Physically he’s good and making a difference. The other forwards are doing well too.”
Fiorentina, in 14th position, have had a resurgence since Giuseppe Iachini took over on December 24, but suffered their first league defeat this year.
Club president Rocco Commisso was furious at the penalty decisions.
“I am disgusted with what I saw today,” blasted the Italian-born US businessman who bought the Tuscany club last year.
“Juve are very strong, a team with a wage bill of 350 million doesn’t need help. Referees cannot decide matches.
“Today they gave two penalties against us, maybe the first was there but the second certainly wasn’t.”
His side tested Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny early with the Pole getting his hand to Federico Chiesa’s back-heel kick and a Pol Lirola effort.
Fellow Pole Bartlomiej Dragowski denied Rodrigo Bentancur at the other end before a VAR review confirmed Fiorentina’s German Pezzella had handled the ball in the area.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo made no mistake, slotting in five minutes before the break.
His second came 10 minutes from time for a disputed Federico Ceccherini foul on Bentancur.
Ronaldo made it 14 goals in nine games to bring his tally to 19 this season, including seven penalties.
The former Real Madrid player has now scored 50 goals in 70 games since moving to Juventus in 2018.
He also becomes the first Juventus player to achieve a run of goals in nine consecutive league games since David Trezeguet in December 2005.
De Ligt nodded in a Paulo Dybala cross in stoppage time for his first goal at the Allianz Stadium, as Iachini fell to his first league defeat with the Tuscany side.
Third-placed Lazio will try to close the gap on Juventus against struggling SPAL later on Sunday.
Roma’s hold on fourth however is now at risk after losing 4-2 to Sassuolo on Saturday.
Atalanta are just a point behind in fifth before they play relegation candidates Genoa looking to move into the final Champions League berth. AFP