Juventus were struggling yet again with Spezia, until Cristiano Ronaldo came on to score a brace and inspire the 4-1 victory.
Cristiano Ronaldo returned after three weeks out with COVID-19, but was only on the bench, while Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro and Matthijs de Ligt were still injured. Federico Chiesa came back from his ban, with the Bianconeri desperate for a result after draws with Crotone and Verona, plus a midweek defeat to Barcelona. Spezia missed numerous players, including Jacopo Sala, Andrij Galabinov, Jeroen Zoet and Federico Mattiello, but Daniele Verde was promoted to the XI.
Alvaro Morata hit the side-netting on a Paulo Dybala pass, then La Joya curled wide of the far post after springing the offside trap.
Morata did get the ball in the net on 16 minutes after Danilo’s through ball found Weston McKennie, who rolled across for the Spaniard to sweep home. The offside flag was raised, but after having three goals disallowed against Barcelona midweek, he finally got one to count, as he was behind the line of the ball.
Federico Chiesa drilled inches wide, and Morata had another goal ruled offside, this time correctly, while Julian Chabot threw himself in the way of a Chiesa strike.
Spezia failed to make the most of a promising counter-attack on the half-hour mark with M’Bala Nzola, who slipped as he was cutting back past Merih Demiral when one-on-one.
Moments later, Spezia did get their equaliser, as Tommaso Pobega’s strike from the edge of the box took a deflection off either Nzola or Demiral to reach the far bottom corner.
Morata controlled a ball over the top and sprinted down the left, pulling back from the by-line for McKennie to tap in from a yard, but Chabot made an extraordinary goal-saving tackle.
Spezia started the second half stronger, with Simone Bastoni and Paolo Bartolomei shots charged down, while Diego Farias made a crucial challenge to stop Dybala running away on the counter.
Cristiano Ronaldo made his comeback after three weeks out with COVID-19 and it took him all of three minutes to get on the scoresheet, as he ran on to a Morata through ball, waltzed round the goalkeeper and deposited into an empty net.
Spezia did not give in and Gigi Buffon needed a great reaction save on Chabot’s header from a corner, with Kevin Agudelo offside when he turned in the rebound.
Instead, Juve extended their lead with another substitute, as Adrien Rabiot gathered down the left from Chiesa, cut inside and scored with his weaker right foot from close range, relatively undisturbed.
The hosts again threatened, a Diego Farias angled drive deflected off Demiral and whistling just wide of what would’ve been an own goal.
However, Chiesa ran into the area and drew the foul as Bartolomei bumped into the back of him for a penalty. Ronaldo converted with a classy Panenka chip.
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