Juve cruise to victory in Udine

Pin Cristiano Ronaldo scored on his return to the Juventus team. AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo scored on his return to the Juventus team. AFP

Juve cruise to victory in Udine

Andrew McAlister by Andrew McAlister @rfutbol - 0 6,921

Juventus widened the gap at the top of the Serie A to nine points with a convincing 2-0 victory over Udinese. Rodrigo Bentancur and Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed the goals, though Massimiliano Allegri will argue there should have been more.

Cristiano Ronaldo stole the headlines once again as he returned to the Juventus starting lineup amid rape allegations, and having missed out on the 'Bianconeri' Champions League victory over Young Boys in midweek due to a suspension. Both Allegri and Velázquez fielded strong teams at the Dacia Arena and, as expected, the 'Zebrette' side set themselves up in a well-organised manner. 

This well-organised manner seemed to truly trouble Juventus from the outset. In fact, the 'Old Lady' often had to resort to shooting from distance as the defence was exceptionally compact in the area. Star man Ronaldo came closest with a deflected effort that almost caught out Udinese goalkeeper Simone Scuffet.

Julio Velázquez's side did not stop chasing the ball throughout the first half - they clearly knew what they were up against. 

The 'Bianconeri' outfit saw several more chances fly their way, Ronaldo with two himself either side of Pjanic's long-range effort, but neither troubled Scuffet in the Udine goal. 

Then came the five minutes that changed everything for Juventus. Uruguayan international Rodrigo Bentancur headed Juve into the lead just after the half-hour mark. Receiving the ball from Dybala, the midfielder played a one-two with right-back Joao Cancelo, whose cross found him rising highest in the area - Bentancur's header was clinical, with Scuffet unable to make a reflex save. 

In the 37th minute, the 'Old Lady' doubled their cushion over Udinese. And who else to get the goal than Cristiano himself. His strike illustrated his unparalled technique in front of goal. Mandzukic held the ball up in the 18-yard box, waiting for the Portuguese to arrive. The Croatian laid him off, and Ronaldo smashed the ball past Scuffet from 15 yards on his left foot, with the power catching out the defence and goalkeeper. 

Either side of the break, Udinese came forward looking for a response. Barak's left footed effort from distance caught out the goalkeeper, but not the post as it deflected wide, before Kevin Lasagna tried to poke the ball home from close range, only for Juventus to miraculously clear. 

Indeed, Juventus had more chances to increase the scoreline. Paulo Dybala dribbled inside before lashing an effort yards wide of the far post, while Ronaldo and Bernardeschi both saw shots blocked by the compact defensive unit. 

Mario Mandzukic also narrowly missed once played through by Bernardeschi, and also smashed over from a tight angle. 

Yet, Juventus did not rue any of the missed chances, and move nine points clear of second-placed Napoli with that convincing victory. Can anyone match Juve in Serie A, or will they cruise towards an eighth successive Scudetto?

Incredibly, this is the first time that Juventus have won their first ten matches of the season across all competitions. 

Andrew McAlister

Andrew McAlister

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