Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice and created another goal as Juventus got back to winning ways in Serie A with a 4-1 victory over Udinese in Turin on Sunday, moving the champions up to fifth in the standings.
Ronaldo opened the scoring with a trademark drive, after latching on to Aaron Ramsey’s pass in the 31st minute, before threading a perfect through ball into the path of Federico Chiesa to score Juve’s second goal four minutes into the second half.
The VAR had a busy evening in Turin. First, the referee was asked to consult the pitch-side monitor before ruling out what Udinese thought was the opener for a handball early on, before Aaron Ramsey suffered the same fate when he was penalised for handball, after a second look.
Ronaldo’s second goal put the result beyond any doubt as he took his goal tally to 14 league goals for the season — two more than anyone else in Serie A — in the 70th minute, with Marvin Zeegelaar scoring an injury-time consolation for Udinese.
There was still time for Paulo Dybala to score another goal for Juventus as Andrea Pirlo’s side moved 10 points behind leaders AC Milan, with a game in hand, while Udinese drop to 13th and are without a win in their last four games.
Pirlo admitted his team had initially struggled to make an impact as the players were still haunted by memories of their shock 3-0 defeat by Fiorentina in their final game before the winter break.
“We started frightened after the match against Fiorentina, we were afraid of the depth of the opponents,” Pirlo told Sky Sports.
“Little by little we grew up and in the second half we did better. It wasn’t the best Juventus.”
Juventus thought they had again fallen behind when Rodrigo de Paul fired home from close range.
Udinese celebrated, but the referee was asked to look again at whether De Paul had handled earlier in the move, before the goal was ruled out.
Ronaldo then took centre stage with his emphatic first-half finish, an even better pass for Juve’s second and a fine third.
Welshman Ramsey thought he had scored his first goal of the season in the second half, but again it was ruled out for handball.
Dybala’s injury-time strike completed a flattering scoreline for Juventus, given Udinese had hit the woodwork twice in the match and missed numerous other chances.
“Dybala … was explosive,” added Pirlo.
“He played one of the best games this year, he was more alive and eager and slowly he will find the best form. We need him and he needs us.”