Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a record-equalling 11th consecutive Serie A game in his 1,000th professional match as Juventus extended their league lead on Saturday with a 2-1 win over basement club SPAL.
The 35-year-old tapped in six minutes before the break to equal the mark held by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season for Juventus, including 16 in his current run of 11 matches.
Aaron Ramsey added a second after an hour, before Andrea Petagna pulled one back from the spot for SPAL, amid controversy as the penalty was awarded following a VAR review despite the pitchside monitor not working.
It got Juventus back to winning ways away from home after consecutive defeats against Napoli and Hellas Verona, and ahead of next week’s trip to French club Lyon in the Champions League last 16, first leg.
Maurizio Sarri’s side opened up a four-point lead on second-placed Lazio who travel to Genoa on Sunday.
Inter Milan are six points behind the champions before their game at home against Sampdoria.
“These were very difficult matches and in the last few years we had never won here,” said Sarri.
“The test was to collect the three points, then from tomorrow morning we will study Lyon thoroughly.
“The goal is the championship. The Champions League is a dream, even if in life it is always nice to achieve dreams.”
Ronaldo had an early goal ruled offside but made no mistake when running onto Juan Cuadrado’s low cross after Ramsey’s ball forward.
The Portuguese forward drew level with Sampdoria forward Quagliarella, who in January 2019 equalled the mark previously achieved by Batistuta in 1994-1995 for Fiorentina.
Both Italian Quagliarella and Argentine Batistuta went on to finish the seasons as the Serie A top scorer after their feat, with both scoring 26 goals in total.
Ronaldo has 21 goals in Serie A this season, five behind leading scorer Ciro Immobile.
Milan held in Tuscany
Ramsey doubled Juve’s lead on the hour mark, latching onto Paulo Dybala’s pass to produce a scooped lob over SPAL goalkeeper Etrit Berisha for his second league goal of the season.
Petagna pulled one back with a penalty awarded for a Daniele Rugani foul on Simone Missiroli after 68 minutes, a decision made by VAR officials with referee unable to check the faulty monitor.
“Today we had goals scored using VAR when VAR wasn’t working,” said Sarri.
“It seems to me a great injustice — if the monitor does not work, the referee must decide.
“I understand that the regulation allows this and (referee Federico) La Penna explained it to me, but I don’t agree with it.”
Ronaldo missed a chace for a second when his free-kick hit the crossbar, but Sarri’s side earned a valuable three points against an outfit they had failed to beat away from home in the previous two seasons.
Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini made his first start since being sidelined with a cruciate ligament knee injury last August, playing for 55 minutes in Ferrara.
“We’re taking it slowly, seeing how he reacts,” added Sarri.
“He can’t play three games in six days that’s for sure.”
AC Milan missed the chance to move ahead of sixth-placed Napoli into the Europa League places with a 1-1 draw at 10-man Fiorentina, to stay behind the southerners on goal difference.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a goal ruled out in the first half for a handball with Milan also losing goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to a foot injury seven minutes after the break with Asmir Begovic making his debut.
Ante Rebic scored his sixth goal in as many league games in the 56th minute to give Milan the lead.
Fiorentina’s Dalbert was sent off for a foul on Ibrahimovic, leaving the hosts a man down for the final half an hour.
But Erick Pulgar grabbed a point for 13th-placed Fiorentina from the spot with five minutes to go for an Alessio Romagnoli foul on Patrick Cutrone.
Sheffield United Demolish Chelsea 3-0
Chelsea hope of top-four finish was threatened on Saturday with a 3-0 comprehensive defeat by Sheffield United.
Two first-half goals and a third from McGoldrick condemned the Blues to the devastating defeat.
They remained at 60points on third position with Leicester at 59 points and Manchester United on 58 points despite playing one more game.
BREAKING: Super Eagles Star Onuachu Tests Positive For COVID-19
Super Eagles striker Paul Onuachu has tested positive for coronavirus, according to his Belgian club Genk.
But his club mates and compatriots Stephen Odey and Cyril Dessers tested negative.
The 26-year-old striker is the only positive case in the club.
“In the run-up to the first exhibition game of the season, the entire Genk group was tested yesterday (Tuesday). Everyone tested negative except Onuachu,” a report on Belgian website hln.be stated.
The 6ft7in striker left Belgium for Nigeria on May 27, alongside fellow Eagles strikers Victor Osimhen and Imoh Ezekiel.
He returned to his club June 28 after he was stranded for a week in Lagos due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to hln.be, Onuachu will miss Genk’s first exhibition game of the season against Eendracht Termien on Thursday as he will be quarantined for a week.
Onuachu’s COVID-19 status has however raised concerns within the Genk squad as he had trained intensively with the rest of the squad for more than a week now.
Onuachu joined Genk from Danish club FC Midtjylland last summer and scored 10 goals for the club before the Belgian Pro Division season was ended abruptly due to COVID-19.
Man Utd Thrash Bournemouth 5-2 To Move Into Top Four
Manchester United moved into the top four as Mason Greenwood struck a brilliant brace in a 5-2 victory over relegation-threatened Bournemouth.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side went above Chelsea ahead of the Blues’ game against Watford with a win that extended their unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions.
They fell behind to Junior Stanislas’ opener, but led at the break through first-half efforts from Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
The Cherries took a shock 16th-minute lead when Stanislas followed up his initial blocked effort and nutmegged Harry Maguire on the byline before beating David de Gea at his near post.
It was the first time United had conceded in 500 minutes in all competitions, but they soon roared back when Greenwood blasted in a venomous left-footed drive having been found by Fernandes.
And six minutes later, United were ahead. Adam Smith needlessly handled the ball following Martial’s downward header and Rashford stuck the resulting penalty into the bottom-right corner of the net.
That put Rashford ahead of Martial in their personal goals duel, though the Frenchman also moved onto 20 for the campaign in emphatic fashion, cutting in off the left flank and rifling into the top corner with a brilliant right-footed strike.
Bournemouth were handed a route back into the match when United made a sloppy start to the second half.
De Gea had already saved from Lewis Cook and Arnaut Danjuma hit the post after Maguire gave the ball away before Eric Bailly handled trying to control Nemanja Matic’s pass.
King converted the penalty against his old club, only for Greenwood to again deliver an emphatic response six minutes later, this time with his right foot.
Fernandes, with two assists to his name already, then got in on the act as United scored five at Old Trafford in a Premier League game for the first time since 2011.
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