Juventus increased their Serie A lead to eight points with a narrow 2-1 win over Lazio. Cristiano Ronaldo’s quick second-half brace helped Maurizio Sarri’s men earn an important victory, though there were nervy moments for them to endure during an action-packed affair. How did players individually fare in Turin?
Alex Sandro headed an effort onto the post from close-range from an inswinging free-kick, before the division’s leading goalscorer Ciro Immobile was inches away from breaking the deadlock at the other end just before half-time.
Neither side made changes at the break, though Manuel Lazzari was forced into an important goalline clearance just moments after the restart.
Paulo Dybala, then Ronaldo, attempted to squeeze close-range efforts goalwards but the midfielder was alert in slamming the ball away to safety. That proved a false dawn.
Less than ten minutes later, Lazio had a two-goal deficit to overturn and Juve’s chance creation dominance had finally begun to show itself on the scoresheet.
Ronaldo saw a shot crash off Bastos – which originally appeared to be on the edge of the box. After a lengthy VAR review, referee Daniele Orsato pointed to the spot.
The 35-year-old made no mistake from twelve yards, firing low and hard beyond goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha to break the deadlock.
Two minutes later, he wheeled away to celebrate again and this time had Dybala’s unselfishness to thank – the Argentine teed him up with a tap-in after dispossessing Luiz Felipe.
Lazio were increasingly lethargic but to their credit, didn’t give up. Instead, they were gifted a late lifeline after tireless work from Immobile helped them earn a penalty.
Leonardo Bonucci panicked under pressure, expecting Wojciech Szczesny to rush out and claim the loose ball, so instead clattered the striker with a lazy stray leg in the box. Just like Ronaldo, he was razor-sharp from the spot to halve the deficit.
It could have been much worse for Juventus, too. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic came close with an excellent free-kick strike, before Bonucci needed to make a last-ditch sliding intervention to deny the probing run of late sub and debutant Raul Moro.
Without further ado, here’s how the players individually rated from a frenetic affair in Turin which all but secures another Scudetto for The Old Lady:
Wojciech Szczesny (Goalkeeper): 6.5/10
Didn’t really have much to do for sustained periods, could count himself unlucky not to save Immobile’s low driving penalty late on but made a big stop to thwart Milinkovic-Savic’s free-kick from range.
The evergreen Gianluigi Buffon, watching on from the sidelines, probably wouldn’t have saved it. Quietly dependable as ever.
Juan Cuadrado: 7/10
Again starting in a sort of right wing-back role, the experienced Colombian relished the opportunity to welcome Djavan Anderson on his first Serie A start to date.
Winning 12 of 16 ground duels rather emphasises the manner in which their battles largely went, while he made four tackles, three successful dribbles and completed two clearances too.
Showed smart game-management in the latter stages after Danilo’s introduction, winning fouls (5) high up the pitch to take the wind out of Lazio’s sails.
Matthijs de Ligt: 6.5/10
de Ligt wasn’t as busy as centre-back partner Bonucci over the 90 minutes, but the Dutch international showed a capability to create chances while offering himself as an additional option in the area whenever Juventus ventured forward.
It was his cushioned side-foot pass that set up Sandro in the area early on, and the 20-year-old was unlucky not to have created his second assist since last month’s resumption after great improvisation from Dybala’s inswinging free-kick.
Tidy in possession (44 passes, 95% completion) with a tackle and interception to boot, this represented a solid all-round outing for a big-money youngster that has been quietly going about his business in recent months.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
This was certainly an eventful game for the Juventus captain, who will miss their next fixture away at Udinese on Thursday through a yellow card suspension.
It started in promising fashion, as he made a big interception to thwart Caicedo’s goalbound effort after Immobile’s clever reverse through ball pass into the six-yard box. The evening could have ended in frustration and two points dropped though.
He was slow to apply on-ball pressure when Immobile was baring down on goal in the first-half, while his mistake in the area gifted Lazio a route back into the game.
Immobile’s tireless effort and obvious goal threat made him a nuisance throughout, but Bonucci – 33 and with over 350 Serie A appearances – should have reacted better under pressure in the box.
Instead, the Juventus centre-back blamed the incident on Szczesny, rather than take accountability for his indecisiveness and poor decision-making.
You could argue he made up for it with a brave and necessary sliding challenge in stoppage-time while on a booking, but this display didn’t exude confidence at the heart of a Juventus backline that looks far from impenetrable this term.
Alex Sandro: 5/10
As mentioned, the Juventus fullback hit the post after 11 minutes as the league leaders were firmly on top.
However, that was his highlight of an evening where the 29-year-old struggled defensively – as he tends to do – and needed help from his midfield teammates tracking back.
Made two interceptions and a block, but won just two of his eight duels contested and was dribbled past on three separate occasions.
Booked for a sliding challenge on Lazzari just before the hour mark and could have no real complaints, either.
Aaron Ramsey: 6.5/10
When Lazio had possession, Ramsey was typically rather pedestrian.
However, he showed good awareness and positioning to regularly make penetrating forward runs that became synonymous during his time at Arsenal.
Was unfortunate that Ronaldo didn’t latch onto his hopeful ball after some promising build-up play, while having an effort blocked in the first-half as he continued probing in-and-around the area where possible.
Faded before being replaced ten minutes into the second-half, having been on the receiving end of two late challenges in quick succession by Cataldi, then Parolo.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 6.5/10
Only Luiz Felipe (62, 89.9% success) had more passes than Bentancur’s 58 (87.9% completion) as the Uruguayan – just like Rabiot – needed to show steely determination to help Juventus get out of precarious situations at times here.
He did so while maintaining his pass-first attitude, though would have felt more freedom with a bonafide ball-winner like Matuidi alongside him.
Completing two key passes and winning four of his eight duels, this was a decent display by a player still ironing out deficiencies that form part of his game as a midfielder in Sarri’s 4-3-3 system.
Was dribbled past twice and played a significant role in the build-up before Immobile struck the post, so is suitably downgraded.
Adrien Rabiot: 7/10
He took some time to get warm but, to his credit, Rabiot created a promising chance out of nothing with a slaloming solo run from his own half – forcing Strakosha into an important save, high at his near post.
Earned more success in the final third than Ramsey, while winning eight of 13 duels, making three clearances and two tackles over the 90 minutes.
Didn’t drift through the game as he tends to, instead the heavily-scrutinised Juventus midfielder was energised as the match wore on and kept possession well to see out a slender victory.
Douglas Costa: 7/10
Costa forced Strakosha into his first save of the evening from distance early on and you could see the winger regularly drifting infield to try and create chances.
It was admirable at times where he’d have limited support or no forward movement in-behind, so instead he felt obliged to go it alone and didn’t struggle either.
Completed two dribbles and made two key passes (91.7% accuracy, 33 passes made) before being replaced by Juventus fullback Danilo before the hour mark.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8/10
Ronaldo, who else, was Juventus’ matchwinner here. He netted a quick-fire brace and became the first player to score 50 goals in Premier League, La Liga and Serie A – an impressive achievement that he’ll undoubtedly be proud of.