SERIE A MATCH REPORT

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Spal 1 - 2 Juventus
Ronaldo 39 (J), Ramsey 60 (J), Petagna pen 69 (S)
Stadio Paolo Mazza

Cristiano Ronaldo made history twice in Ferrara, as his goal and an Aaron Ramsey lob pushed past still struggling SPAL, despite Andrea Petagna’s penalty.

This was bottom against top in the Serie A table, as SPAL still have just 15 points and have now lost five on the bounce, including new coach Gigi Di Biagio’s debut last week. Bryan Dabo and Alberto Cerri were injured, while Juve missed Miralem Pjanic, Gonzalo Higuain, Douglas Costa, Sami Khedira, Merih Demiral and suspended Leonardo Bonucci. Giorgio Chiellini therefore got his first start since August, having returned as a substitute last week after five months out with a torn ACL.

This was an historic occasion for Cristiano Ronaldo, his 1,000th match as a professional football player.

It was a very strong SPAL start, pinning Juve back with Andrea Petagna’s strike smothered and some panicked clearances. However, the first time Juve went into the opposition half, they found the back of the net, Cristiano Ronaldo on the end of a Paulo Dybala cross to dink it over the goalkeeper, only to be flagged offside.

Juan Cuadrado shinned a volley over from a promising position, then did considerably better when turning in the box, his finish deflected so Etrit Berisha could gather.

Simone Missiroli’s powerful low cross-shot squirmed under Wojciech Szczesny’s legs, but the goalkeeper was just about able to slow it down.

Dybala went so close on 37 minutes when he spun round on the edge of the area and his swerving left-foot strike bounced off the inside of the near post to bounce back out again.

Thiago Cionek’s chest and volley was not far over, but Ronaldo made history yet again with the opener, equalling the all-time Serie A record of 11 consecutive games on target, set by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

Aaron Ramsey sent Cuadrado down the right and the cross was perfect for Ronaldo to sweep into the roof of the net at the far post.

Ronaldo almost got a second after the restart, his angled drive deflected inches wide by Berisha’s foot.

Berisha also did well to parry Cuadrado’s attempt from close range and Ramsey curled wide. Mohamed Fares also made his comeback from an ACL rupture.

Juventus scored their second in real style, as Dybala’s inspired through ball released Ramsey, who took a touch and then lobbed it over the on-rushing goalkeeper.

However, SPAL got one back when VAR pointed out Daniele Rugani had got Simone Missiroli’s ankle before the ball, so Andrea Petagna sent Szczesny the wrong way to convert the penalty. Curiously, the connection between the referee and VAR wasn’t working, nor was the on-field review screen, so with a walkie-talkie they went ‘Premier League style’ and let the VAR make the decision.

Ronaldo has never scored a free kick in the Juventus jersey, but he’s never come closer than on 85 minutes, when it flew over the wall and on to the crossbar.

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Spal: Berisha; Cionek, Bonifazi, Zukanovic, Reca; Missiroli (Tunjov 80), Valdifiori, Castro (Fares 60); Valoti (Di Francesco 89), Petagna, Strefezza
Juventus: Szczesny; Danilo, Rugani, Chiellini (De Ligt 54), Alex Sandro; Ramsey (Rabiot 73), Bentancur, Matuidi (Bernardeschi 79); Cuadrado, Dybala, Ronaldo
Ref: La Penna