Ronaldo runs riot as Juve thump 10-man Lecce

Updated Jun 28 2020

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JUVENTUS’ Cristiano Ronaldo shoots at goal with an overhead kick during the Serie A match against Lecce at the Allianz Stadium.—Reuters
JUVENTUS’ Cristiano Ronaldo shoots at goal with an overhead kick during the Serie A match against Lecce at the Allianz Stadium.—Reuters

TURIN: Cristiano Ronaldo is back in form.

Ronaldo scored a thumping penalty and created goals for Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain as Juventus hammered 10-man Lecce 4-0 at the Allianz Stadium on Friday to boost their chances of claiming a record-extending ninth successive Serie A title.

The 35-year-old had struggled since football resumed in Italy, but his return to form pushed Juve to 69 points after 28 games, seven clear of second-placed Lazio who have a match in hand.

“What’s important is that we continue to get results,” Juve coach Maurizio Sarri said when asked about their increasing advantage at the top of the table. “We struggled at the beginning and then we managed to get going at the end of the first half. But I saw a good mentality because even when the match was over, we still continued to attack.”

Lecce meanwhile stay third-from-bottom, level on 25 points with Genoa a place above them and a point behind Sampdoria in 16th.

Ronaldo had set out his stall in the first half with an acrobatic overhead kick, and when Lecce’s Fabio Lucioni got a straight red card for a clumsy challenge after 32 minutes the visitors were left with a mountain to climb.

Juve took the lead in the 53rd minute when Ronaldo fed Dybala, who clipped a superb shot into the top corner. Ronaldo then bagged his goal from the spot in the 62nd after being tripped by Luca Rossettini.

The Turin side dominated possession throughout, and though Lecce bravely tried to play the ball out from the back to mount attacks of their own, they struggled to get out of their own half.

Higuain came off the bench to make his first appearance for Juventus since the resumption of Serie A following the coronavirus pandemic, and a clever backheel from Portuguese Ronaldo set him up to score in the 83rd minute.

Centre back Matthijs de Ligt added the fourth with a close-range header from Douglas Costa’s cross to complete the rout.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2020