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Cristiano Ronaldo was back amongst the goals as Juventus resumed their Serie A campaign with a comfortable victory at Bologna to stretch their lead at the top of the league to four points.
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The Old Lady had fired blanks in their two matches since the resumption of Italian football, drawing with AC Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final before losing to Napoli on penalties in the final.
But Maurizio Sarri kept faith in his 4-3-3 formation and his decision paid dividends, as Juve all but wrapped up the victory up before half-time.
Bologna made a bright start to proceedings, but their hard work was undone when Stefano Denswil pulled Matthijs De Ligt's shirt in a moment of madness when contesting a corner delivery. After a VAR check the penalty was given with Ronaldo coolly opening the scoring from the spot in the 23rd-minute.
Paulo Dybala doubled Juve's advantage in the 36th-minute with a sumptuous curled effort after a lovely turn on the edge of the box, as Sarri's side took control.
Juventus’ dominance continued in the second-half without reward, as Federico Bernardeschi struck the post and Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for offside.
The visitors had substitute Danilo – a replacement for the injured Mattia De Sciglio – sent off for two bookable offences late on, and with Alex Sandro still on the sidelines, Sarri has a problem at left-back ahead of Friday night’s match with Lecce.
The victory gives Juventus breathing space in their attempt to regain their title, with second-placed Lazio not in action until Wednesday when they travel to Atalanta, while Bologna remain 10th.
TALKING POINT - Victory eases pressure on Sarri
The Old Lady have endured a far from convincing campaign under the former Chelsea boss - by their ridiculously high standards. They may be atop of the Serie A, but with 27 league games played this demanding club would have been expecting to be out of sight already.
A dismal penalty shootout defeat saw his former club Napoli lift the Coppa Italia at Sarri’s expense, increasing the pressure on the 61-year-old, who only has the Europa League on his honours list.
To make his position increasingly vulnerable, Sarri then appeared to publicly criticise Ronaldo before kick-off, suggesting the 34-year-old isn’t “physically at his best”.
The Portuguese responded with an impressive showing, as Juventus took control of the title race. With Lazio travelling to the dangerous Atalanta on Wednesday night, this victory might just prove crucial in Sarri’s career with Juventus.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Paulo Dybala
After coming under-fire since football's restart, Juve's attacking trident looked much more fluid tonight, and it was Dybala who provided the best moment of the game.
Bologna: Skorupski 7, Tomiyasu 5, Danilo 6, Denswil 5, Dijks 6, Svanberg 6, Medel 6, Soriano 6, Orsolini 6, Barrow 6, Sansone 6.. subs: Poli N/A, Palacio 6, Juwara N/A, Dominguez 5, Cangiano N/A.
Juventus: Szczesny 6, Cuadrado 6, De Ligt 7, Bonucci 6, De Sciglio 6, Bentancur 7, Pjanic 7, Rabiot 7; Bernardeschi 8, Dybala 8, Ronaldo 8.. subs: Danilo 4, Ramsey 5, Matuidi 5, D Costa N/A.
22' - Penalty to Juventus! De Ligt goes down inside the penalty area as he contests a corner delivery. Replays show Denswil had a firm hold of his shirt. Juve appeal for a penalty and it's going to VAR! The penalty is given! Bologna can't have too many complaints.
23' - GOAL! Bologna 0-1 Juventus (Ronaldo pen): Cristiano steps up and fires down the middle, with Skorupski diving to his left. Cool as you like.
36' - GOAL! Bologna 0-2 Juventus (Dybala): With a swing of his magical left foot, Dybala doubles Juventus' advantage after a lovely turn on the edge of the box. Bernadeschi grabs the assist with a glorious back-heel pass.
53' - Off the woodwork! Oh my, what a shot from Bernardeschi! He cuts inside from the right and curls a left-footed shot at goal. Skorupski is at full stretch to touch it onto the post. The Bologna goalkeeper then gathers himself to push Ronaldo's rebounded effort away.
89' - Ronaldo goal disallowed! The Portuguese has the ball in the back of the net for the second time this evening, but after a VAR check, it's obvious Douglas Costa was in an offside position.
90'+1 - Red card! Danilo is shown a second yellow card for another needless and silly challenge! Juve are down to 10 men on the night and without a full-back!
- Since his first goal for Sporting, only once in his career Cristiano Ronaldo had a drought of goals longer than 120 days, among clubs and the national team: between December 2002 and November 2003.
- Juventus have kept more than four clean sheetsin a row (419 minutes without goals conceded) in all competitions for their first time since December 2018.
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