Juventus rise up … and Ronaldo steals the spotlight, as usual


Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 20th goal in the Italian league this season during his 600th league match, contributing to Juventus’ 3-0 victory over Spezia on Tuesday, and narrowing the gap with second-placed Milan to 3 points.

The Portuguese star scored the third goal for his team in the final minutes, after Alvaro Morata and Federico Chiesa scored earlier in the second half.

Ronaldo, who also hit the post during the first half, became the first player to score at least 20 goals in the last 12 seasons in the five major European leagues.

Juventus are third with 49 points from 24 games, behind Milan, who have 52 points, and Inter Milan, leaders with 56 points, before the two teams play this week against Udinese and Parma, respectively.

And after coach Andrea Pirlo’s team stumbled by a draw with Verona, on Saturday, he knew there was no room for wasting more points after trailing 10 points behind leaders Inter.

But Juventus lost defender Mattis de Ligt after being injured during the warm-up and faced difficulties at the start of the match, and his earliest opportunity was when Ronaldo went into the penalty area and hit the post.

The decision to engage Morata and Federico Bernardeschi half an hour before the end of the match was decisive, and the winger passed to the Spanish striker to score his first goal in the league since December, 60 seconds after he came off the field.

Bernardeschi and contributed to the second goal when he passed to Chiesa inside the penalty area, to score from the follow-up after goalkeeper Ivan Providel saved his first attempt.

Ronaldo then went on to score the third goal in the 89th minute and settle the victory of Juventus, although Spezia missed an opportunity to score an honorary goal when goalkeeper Wojciech Cesny saved a penalty kick by Andrei Galapinov in the last game of the match.

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