SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 19 - content); ?>
Roma 1 - 2 Juventus
Demiral 3 (J), Ronaldo pen 10 (J), Perotti pen 68 (R)
Stadio Olimpico

Juventus stunned Roma with an early couple of goals to secure their Winter Champion status, but Nicolò Zaniolo suffered a serious injury.

The Bianconeri knew Inter had been held by Atalanta last night, so a win would secure their status as Winter Champions at the midway stage of the season, while the hosts needed a boost to go clear in fourth after the surprise home defeat to Torino.

Roma missed Javier Pastore, Federico Fazio, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Davide Santon, Justin Kluivert and Davide Zappacosta, but resisted the rumoured switch to three at the back. Rodrigo Bentancur continued his ban, with Sami Khedira and Giorgio Chiellini injured, as Aaron Ramsey and Merih Demiral were again given the nod.

It took under three minutes to break the deadlock, as Paulo Dybala floated a free kick to the back post, where Demiral got away from Aleksandar Kolarov to volley in almost with his shin.

Roma were caught napping again, this time with Jordan Veretout on a back-pass, as Dybala snuck up behind him to steal the ball and was hauled down. Cristiano Ronaldo sent Pau Lopez the wrong way to convert the penalty and double Juve’s lead.

The Giallorossi nearly got back into it, as Wojciech Szczesny flapped at an Alessandro Florenzi cross and Lorenzo Pellegrini’s rebound was cleared practically off the line by Adrien Rabiot’s torso.

Goal-scorer Demiral landed heavily on his knee after a huge leap on a free kick and had to limp off, replaced by Matthijs de Ligt.

Nicolò Zaniolo’s shot was charged down after a ruleta, then he was brought down by De Ligt on the edge of the box following a marvellous slalom through defenders. He must’ve fallen awkwardly, as Zaniolo was in tears and had to be stretchered off, making way for Cengiz Under.

Diego Perotti pounced on a poor Miralem Pjanic pass and was brought down by Juan Cuadrado right on the edge of the box, but Kolarov’s free kick was deflected over. Instead, Ronaldo threatened to make it 3-0 on a Rabiot through ball, his angled drive well parried by Pau Lopez.

Roma continued to push with a series of corners, but Mancini got the volley all wrong as Cengiz Under floated a ball to the back post.

They finally made some of the pressure count when Dzeko’s volley bounced off the base of the post, then Szczesny made an extraordinary double save on Cengiz Under on the rebound at the back post. However, after viewing on VAR, the referee saw that the ball had hit Alex Sandro on the stomach and then he’d moved his hand towards it in an instinctive gesture. Perotti converted the penalty and it was game on.

Ronaldo wasted a free header, with the opportunity to go 3-1 up on a Blaise Matuidi cross, then CR7 hesitated a moment too long in giving Gonzalo Higuain the pass for an angled drive, so that goal was flagged offside.

It remained open until the final whistle, as Pellegrini ballooned over from a promising position after a crucial De Ligt tackle on Dzeko.

Juve held on for the victory, which makes them Winter Champions of Serie A, two points clear of Inter.

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Roma: Pau Lopez; Florenzi, Smalling, Mancini, Kolarov; Diawara, Veretout (Cristante 66); Zaniolo (Under 36), Pellegrini, Perotti (Kalinic 82); Dzeko
Juventus: Szczesny; Cuadrado, Demiral (De Ligt 19), Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Rabiot, Pjanic, Matuidi; Ramsey (Danilo 69); Dybala (Higuain 69), Ronaldo
Ref: Guida