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Cristiano Ronaldo's Goal Lifts Juventus over Sampdoria 2-1 in Serie A Clash

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Italian Serie A football match Sampdoria vs Juventus on December 18, 2019 at the Luigi-Ferraris stadium in Genoa. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
MARCO BERTORELLO/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo scored to help Juventus move to the top of Serie A after beating Sampdoria 2-1 at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Wednesday night.

Paulo Dybala opened the scoring for the Bianconeri, before Ronaldo found the net on the stroke of halftime after Gianluca Caprari, who was sent off for a second bookable offence late on, had equalised for the hosts.

The result means the Old Lady has gone above Inter Milan on goal difference ahead of Inter's meeting with Genoa on Saturday.

Juve's efforts to get forward were a little stunted in the early going, with Maurizio Sarri's players struggling to carry out his stylish, possession-based philosophy. The away side's best outlet proved to be left-back Alex Sandro, with one teasing cross from the Brazilian finding Ronaldo, but the latter couldn't direct his header.

Sandro's next delivery bore fruit for the Bianconeri when Dybala finished neatly from inside the box.

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

This Paulo Dybala one-timer is perfection 👏 Watch on ESPN+ ➡️ https://t.co/a0Z13y49gu https://t.co/UYsh6p7tvX

Watch El Clásico live on Premier Sports 📺 @PremierSportsTV

😍 PAULO DYBALA WITH A BEAUTIFULLY CONTROLLED VOLLEY! 👌 A perfect cross-field ball from Alex Sandro is converted spectacularly by the Argentine ⚫⚪ Juve take the lead away to Sampdoria! https://t.co/WxRvd3C5hR

Dybala, who now has seven goals to his credit in all competitions this season, has responded well to Sarri's arrival this summer. The Argentina international is benefiting from playing more like a classic No. 10, according to ESPN's Matteo Bonetti:

Matteo Bonetti @BonettiESPN

Paulo Dybala’s production when he’s a second striker or attacking midfielder is dramatically better than when he was hugging the touch line at times as a RW. That and continuity are bringing back the best version of Dybala.

Sampdoria might have buckled, but missed chances from Gonzalo Higuain and Sandro gave the hosts hope of salvaging something. Hope looked like becoming reality when Caprari converted amid a melee in the area.

Building on the momentum provided by Caprari's goal proved difficult, though, and Juve answered decisively seconds before the break. Once again it was Sandro who made the difference, teasing another expert cross onto the head of Ronaldo.

In the process, the 34-year-old continued a prolific recent run:

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in 5 straight Juventus matches for the first time: Sassuolo ⚽️ Lazio ⚽️ Leverkusen ⚽️ Udinese ⚽️⚽️ Sampdoria ⚽️ https://t.co/FEtHruMQGg

Watch El Clásico live on Premier Sports 📺 @PremierSportsTV

💥 Cristiano Ronaldo puts Juve back in front with a TOWERING header before half time! ⬆ Look at how high he climbed for that one! 👍 And another brilliant cross from Alex Sandro for the assist! https://t.co/aQl118qDZQ

The second half saw Juve continue to struggle for consistency in their play. Those struggles prompted Sarri to bring Aaron Ramsey off the bench, with the former Arsenal playmaker replacing Higuain, while Dybala moved further forward alongside Ronaldo.

Ramsey soon went close, but he dragged his effort wide as the match entered its final 15 minutes. Sampdoria's response was a narrow miss from creative forward Gaston Ramirez.

Jeison Murillo blazed over late on for the hosts, who were reduced to 10 men when Caprari was shown a second yellow card after bringing down Merih Demiral.

Ronaldo and Juve had ultimately done just enough to claim all three points and seize control of the title race.

   

What's Next?

Juve's next game is the Supercoppa Italiana final against Lazio in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Meanwhile, Sampdoria won't return to league action until Monday, January 6 for an away game against AC Milan.