Udinese 1-2 Juventus
Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero for Juventus on Sunday afternoon with two crucial late goals as the Bianconeri came from behind to beat Udinese and remain in the top four in Serie A.
An early goal by Nahuel Molina looked set to consign Juve to 5th place at the end of the weekend’s action, but Ronaldo’s late intervention means his team still have Champions League qualification in their own hands.
Molina struck in the 10th minute to put Udinese ahead, and the scoreline remained at 1-0 until a dramatic final seven minutes at the Dacia Arena. Ronaldo’s free-kick struck a hand in the Udinese wall for an 83rd minute penalty, which the Portugal captain smashed past Simone Scuffet to level the score.
Juve, and in particular their under-fire coach Andrea Pirlo, needed a victory and typically Ronaldo proved decisive in snatching all three points. Adrien Rabiot’s cross to the back post found Ronaldo, who directed his header on target and Scuffet failed to keep the ball from squeezing inside the near post.
In amidst the visitors' comeback joy, there was a special moment for 20-year-old Portuguese debutant Félix Correia, who was introduced shortly after Ronaldo's first goal. Correia arrived in Turin last summer from Manchester City and has been featuring for Juve's U23 side this season.
With the weekend news dominated by Inter being crowned Serie A champions, Juventus must focus on securing a top four place following an alarming slump in form this season. With just four matches remaining, 4th-place Juve have a two-point lead over Napoli and a five-point advantage over Lazio, who have one game in-hand.
Juve’s task is far from easy, with a home match against Inter still to play. For Ronaldo, goal nos. 26 and 27 of the league season saw him move closer to securing his status as the league’s top goalscorer. The Seleção man has six goals more than nearest rival Romelu Lukaku and is on course to reach the 30-goal barrier for the second season running despite his team’s troubles.
By Sean Gillen