Cristiano Ronaldo’s cushioned volley and a Mario Mandzukic tap-in gave Juventus the victory over SPAL, with Douglas Costa rattling the upright.
The Bianconeri had dropped points only once in Serie A this season, the 1-1 draw with Genoa, but changed to a 4-4-2 formation in the absence of Federico Bernardeschi, Sami Khedira and Emre Can. Among those rested after the break for international duty were Wojciech Szczesny, Giorgio Chiellini, Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala. SPAL had one point from the previous three rounds, with Kevin Bonifazi coming in for injured Francesco Vicari.
Juve had the ball in the back of the net after nine minutes when a Douglas Costa cross was deflected for an own goal, but it was disallowed, as Mario Mandzukic had wandered into the penalty area before Alfred Gomis took the misplaced goal kick.
A long-range Douglas Costa strike was smothered, while Jasmin Kurtic’s free kick skimmed the near post and Gomis fingertipped a Douglas Costa scorcher just wide.
The breakthrough came when Miralem Pjanic whipped a free kick across the face of goal and Cristiano Ronaldo sprung the offside trap to volley in with the inside of his left boot, a cushioned finish guiding the ball back into the other side of the net.
Kurtic drilled wide again from distance and Mattia Perin was right behind a Kevin Bonifazi rocket.
After the restart, Douglas Costa hit a missile from a seemingly impossible angle and it bounced off the inside of the far post, into the path of Ronaldo, who somehow turned it wide.
Mandzukic wore the captain’s armband for the first time and celebrated it in style with a goal. Cristiano Ronaldo ran on to a long ball and pulled it back for Douglas Costa, whose snapshot was only parried into the path of Mandzukic.
Gomis got his gloves to a Ronaldo daisy-cutter, with CR7 going close again with an overhead kick and angled drive.
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