Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain helped Juventus move seven points clear at the top of Serie A with a resounding 4-0 win over 10-man Lecce at the Allianz Stadium.
Fabio Lucioni’s first-half dismissal left lowly Lecce, who had started brightly, facing a daunting task yet it needed a moment of brilliance from Dybala to open the scoring after 53 minutes.
Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi were guilty of woeful misses in the opening period but the former lashed home his 23rd Serie A goal of the campaign from the penalty spot before excellently setting up Higuain.
Matthijs de Ligt added a fourth that was harsh on Lecce as Maurizio Sarri’s men stretched their lead on Lazio, beaten 3-2 by Atalanta last time out, albeit their rivals have a game in hand.
Andrea Rispoli flashed wide on the half-volley as Juve were carved open after four minutes.
Gabriel parried Adrien Rabiot’s long-range shot and Ronaldo drilled wide of the right post as Juventus came to life and soon found themselves a man up.
Rodrigo Bentancur, playing in his 100th game for Juve, caught Lucioni in possession 40 yards from goal and the centre-back chopped down his opponent to earn the straight red.
Ronaldo incredibly put a close-range header from Dybala’s corner over the top when unmarked then teed up Bernardeschi, who missed an even bigger sitter when blazing high from inside the six-yard box.
Gabriel was in action again to keep out Leonardo Bonucci’s header just after the restart but was powerless to stop Dybala opening the scoring.
Evgen Shakhov’s careless pass was picked up by Ronaldo, who teed up the Argentina forward to curl a sumptuous left-foot effort into the top-right corner from the edge of the area.
It was game over just after the hour when Ronaldo lashed home the penalty he won after being tripped by Luca Rossettini.
The Portugal superstar would have had another had Gabriel not kept out his point-blank header but his ingenious backheel after a fine run deflected into the path of Higuain, who drilled home the third.
De Ligt then nodded in Douglas Costa’s corner as Juve ultimately ran out comfortable winners.
What does it mean? Juve put pressure on Lazio
The coronavirus-enforced break stemmed Lazio’s momentum and there is a sense there can be no more slip-ups from Simeone Inzaghi’s side. If there are, then Juve’s path towards a ninth straight title will be even clearer.
Ronaldo makes amends in style
There was no excuse for a player of Ronaldo’s calibre missing the first-half chance he did.
But he was at his brilliant best in the second, first laying on for Dybala to beat the otherwise brilliant Gabriel, before going on to score a penalty he earned himself and finishing a mazy run with an exquisite flick that, with a little help, found its way to Higuain to score Juve’s third. It was some response from the Portugal great.
Lucioni’s panic undoes Lecce’s hard work
Up until the red card there is an argument to say Lecce were the better team, certainly the more ambitious going forward. Lucioni’s dismissal may be harsh to some but his lapse stemmed their progress, though Shakhov’s carelessness was not much help either.
Key Opta Facts:
– Juventus have won seven home matches in a row for the first time since April 2018 in Serie A.
– Juventus have conceded only one goal at home in 2020, no team in the top-five European Leagues have conceded fewer goals in this period.
– Lecce are the 20th different side Cristiano Ronaldo has scored against in Serie A – the Portuguese player has found the net against 20 of the 21 teams he has faced in the competition so far.
– No player has scored more home goals than Ronaldo in 2019-20 (16 alongside Ciro Immobile).
– Paulo Dybala has scored his 50th goal at home in Serie A.
Juventus continue their bid for the title at Genoa on Tuesday, while Lecce next face Sampdoria.