Paulo Dybala’s volley and a towering Cristiano Ronaldo header gave Juventus all three points in a 2-1 victory away to Sampdoria.
The Bianconeri were joint leaders with Inter and tried to build momentum with the superstar trident of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain. Rodrigo Bentancur was suspended, but Miralem Pjanic and Juan Cuadrado returned from bans. Ronaldo Vieira sat out a ban for Samp, who missed Bartosz Bereszynski, Albin Ekdal, Federico Bonazzoli, Edgar Barreto and Andrea Bertolacci. Fabio Quagliarella had a slight muscular problem against Genoa, so Claudio Ranieri transformed the front two.
Gigi Buffon matched Paolo Maldini’s all-time record of 647 Serie A appearances, standing in for injured Wojciech Szczesny.
Merih Demiral started for the third game running with a huge risk, his error sparking a Nicola Murru counter and seeming to shove him in the penalty area, but the referee waved play on.
Juve dominated possession, but the hosts were dangerous on the counter, Gaston Ramirez nodding a Jeison Murillo cross over the bar.
However, the Bianconeri broke through with a moment of sheer quality. Alex Sandro whipped in a cross from the left, Dybala was just inside the penalty area, watched it come down and hit a perfect volley into the ground, bouncing into the far bottom corner.
However, Sampdoria equalised after a corner when Alex Sandro was caught in possession, then his clearance accidentally set up Gianluca Caprari to drill home from 15 yards.
Ronaldo’s dangerous cross-shot whizzed just past both Higuain and Dybala sliding in and skimmed the back post.
On the stroke of half-time, Juve restored their advantage and Alex Sandro was involved with another cross from the left to the back post, where Cristiano Ronaldo not just soared above Murru, but hung there for what felt like an eternity to get the header. It was calculated he jumped 71cm off the ground and was at 2.56m when he made contact with the ball.
Jakub Jankto tested Buffon with a volley from distance and Thorsby drilled on to the side-netting, but Juve should’ve added a third goal when Blaise Matuidi completely mistimed a free header from six yards on Dybala’s cross.
Ronaldo’s deflected effort looped up to test Emil Audero, while Manolo Gabbiadini flicked on a cross that flew inches beyond Gaston Ramirez sliding in at the back post.
Alex Sandro limped off and will be in doubt for Sunday’s Italian Super Cup against Lazio in Riyadh.
Ronaldo had the ball in the net on 89 minutes when he prodded it past on-rushing Audero into an empty net, but was flagged inches offside.
Moments later, Ronaldo burst down the left, cut inside and fired a right-footed shot that skimmed the far post.
Caprari was sent off for a second bookable offence in stoppages, both of them on Merih Demiral, this one a slightly raised elbow.
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Sent off: Caprari 92 (S)