x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Cristiano Ronaldo scores 10th goal of season as Juventus open up nine-point lead in Serie A - in pictures

Portuguese forward has seven goals in his past seven matches as the Italian champions comfortably beat SPAL

Cristiano Ronaldo continued his fine run of goal-scoring form to help Juventus defeat SPAL 2-0 on Saturday as the Serie A champions opened up a nine-point lead at the top of the table.

Ronaldo slotted home Miralem Pjanic's free-kick after 29 minutes in Turin to join Genoa's Krzysztof Piatek at the top of the Serie A scoring charts with nine goals, before Mario Mandzukic sealed the three points on the hour mark ahead of Tuesday's crucial Uefa Champions League visit of Valencia.

The pair also scored both in Juventus' 2-0 win over AC Milan before the international break, and Ronaldo's strike was his seventh in as many games in all competitions for his new club, for a total of 10 goals this season.

____________

Read more:

European football talking points: Hot-headed Higuain and Barcelona burned by Betis

Gennaro Gattuso looking over his shoulder at AC Milan as he approaches the big 50

San Siro no longer cutting edge, but no other stadium comes close to its majesty

____________

"Cristiano does things that catch opponents off guard and that's exactly what we need," Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri said. "Sometimes we play one pass too many and the moment is lost.

"Cristiano moves and thinks so quickly, he saw Douglas Costa coming out the corner of his eye and pulled the pass back. We need to all improve in that sense, being able to think ahead to the next move."

SPAL, fighting relegation, were no match for Allegri's reigning champions who are nine points ahead of Napoli, with Carlo Ancelotti's side aiming to close the gap when they play bottom club Chievo on Sunday.

Following his opener, 33-year-old Ronaldo sent wide a chance for a double after the break, but he played a role in the second goal scored by Mandzukic, who was wearing the captain's armband for the first time.

Ronaldo latched onto a long ball and pulled it back for Douglas Costa, whose shot was cleared into the path of Mandzukic and gobbled up by the Croatian.

"The opening goal changed the game and I was very angry that we were slow to react and allowed Ronaldo to go clear," said SPAL manager Leonardo Semplici.

"It's the first time I've seen Ronaldo up close and my forwards should learn from the attitude that a champion like this puts into every game. We need to improve on the details if we want to avoid being put under pressure."

Roma fall to shock defeat

Roma suffered a setback ahead of Tuesday's Champions League game against holders Real Madrid at the Stadio Olimpico, falling to a 1-0 defeat at Udinese.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side were sluggish against the hosts, who pulled away from the relegation zone thanks to Argentine Rodrigo De Paul's 54th-minute goal.

"When you have almost 80 per cent possession in the first half, what you lack is determination to finish the game," Di Francesco said after his side drop to seventh, 18 points behind Juve.

Keita Balde scored twice to open his account for Inter Milan as they beat Frosinone 3-0 on Saturday to move alongside second-placed Napoli in the Serie A title race.

Lautaro Martinez also found the net on a rare start as Inter warmed up well for their crucial Champions League match with Tottenham Hotspur.