Milan: Cristiano Ronaldo headed in his 18th league goal this season Sunday as Juventus bounced back from last week’s stalemate to soar to an 11-point lead in Serie A with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.
Ronaldo proved decisive, scoring after 70 minutes as Sami Khedira found the net first in Modena with fellow German Emre Can slotting in the third four minutes from time.
The Serie A champions had been held by Parma last week despite the Portugese forward’s double. Now they have left second-placed Napoli trailing after Carlo Ancelotti’s side were held to a goalless draw Saturday at Fiorentina.
Paulo Dybala again started on the bench coming on late for the champions, to help set up the third goal, with coach Massimiliano Allegri stating he needed to find the right balance.
“Ronaldo and Dybala can certainly play together and they will do, but we need everyone to work hard in order to keep the team balanced,” said Allegri. “It all depends on who you are playing against. Sassuolo have a strong midfield, so I had to balance my team that way today.”
Juventus had started slowly with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saving twice in the opening minutes as the champions were without injured defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
Juventus broke through after Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli rushed out to parry a Ronaldo shot leaving the way clear for Khedira to turn in the rebound after 23 minutes.
It was the German international’s second league goal of his injury-hit campaign, after scoring the opening goal of the Serie A season against Chievo, August 18.
Consigli denied Federico Bernardeschi just before the break with a Khedira header flying wide. But Ronaldo jumped highest after 70 minutes to meet Pjanic’s corner for his fourth goal in his last three league games to bring his tally to 20 goals for Juventus in all competitions.
Argentine Dybala came off the bench seven minutes from time along with Can and was involved in the buildup for the final goal with Ronaldo providing the assist.