A Miralem Pjanic strike and Cristiano Ronaldo header gave Juventus the 2-0 victory over SPAL, although Etrit Berisha kept the scoreline down with a series of saves.
The Bianconeri were dealing with an injury crisis that ruled out Danilo, Mattia De Sciglio, Giorgio Chiellini and Douglas Costa, with Alex Sandro in Brazil on compassionate leave, so Juan Cuadrado and Blaise Matuidi were makeshift full-backs. Gonzalo Higuain was rested, as Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the starting XI following a midweek win at Brescia. SPAL missed Jasmin Kurtic, Federico Di Francesco, Marco D’Alessandro, Mattia Valoti and Mohamed Fares, but surprisingly gave Gabriele Moncini his first Serie A start of the season.
SPAL beat Juve only twice in Serie A, in 1957 and last April. Juve confirmed their issues defending set plays, as Arkadiusz Reca was unmarked and snatched at his volley wide in the opening minutes.
Gianluigi Buffon made history with his 903rd club football appearance for Parma, Juventus and PSG, surpassing the record 902 set by Paolo Maldini at Milan.
Sami Khedira’s glancing header whistled just past the far post on a Cuadrado cross, while Ronaldo’s volley was deflected wide by Nenad Tomovic.
Juve went on the counter from a SPAL free kick, Dybala’s left-foot curler fingertipped round the far post by Etrit Berisha on 34 minutes.
That moment suddenly turned up the tempo in what had until then been a very sluggish match. The Bianconeri pumped crosses into the box, Berisha struggling on some of them.
The best chance by far was on 43 minutes, as Cristiano Ronaldo dinked up a cross to the back post for Ramsey’s free header, but Berisha performed an astonishing save from point-blank range. Ramsey had nodded it back across the face of goal with Berisha already diving the wrong way, but the goalkeeper stuck out his trailing leg to kick it off the line.
Pjanic saw his strike cleared off the line by Francesco Vicari, although Ronaldo seemed to be offside in the build-up and it would not have counted.
The deadlock was eventually broken on the stroke of half-time. Berisha punched away another dangerous cross, Sami Khedira knocked it down and Pjanic thumped a half-volley from 20 metres that took a slight deflection off Mirko Valdifiori to loop into the far top corner.
Berisha continued to keep the scoreline down with another spectacular close-range save on Khedira’s diving header from six yards, set up by Ronaldo.
The goalkeeper was at full stretch to get one hand to snooker shots from both Dybala and Ronaldo, then beat away a powerful CR7 strike at the near post.
Ronaldo took all this into account when scoring the second goal, as Dybala whipped in a cross from the left and at the back post he aimed a strong downward header directly between Berisha’s legs, although the ‘keeper almost managed to get that one too.
Berisha consolidated his Man of the Match status in stoppages with another fingertip save to turn Ronaldo's volley round the far post.
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