Juventus boost hopes of 10th straight title with win over struggling Spezia - GulfToday

Juventus boost hopes of 10th straight title with win over struggling Spezia

Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo scores against Spezia during their Italian League match at the Turin Allianz Stadium in Italy on Tuesday. Associated Press

Juventus gave their hopes of a 10th straight Serie A title a timely boost as they beat struggling Spezia 3-0 on Tuesday to move within seven points of league leaders Inter Milan.

Andrea Pirlo’s side were frustrated for long periods, but second-half goals from Alvaro Morata, Federico Chiesa and Cristiano Ronaldo clinched an important win.

“The gap is just the points that separate us,” Juventus coach Pirlo, who took over at the start of the season, told Sky Sport Italia.

“We know it will be a long chase, Inter have been playing together for two years, they have a well-drilled approach, whereas we just started this season. We still intend to be there right to the end.”

The Turin giants have won the last nine Italian league titles, but have it all to do to deny either of the two Milan clubs from ending that remarkable run.

“We are working to win, if we don’t win this season, then we’ll congratulate the champions, but as long as there’s a mathematical chance, we’ll give our all on the pitch,” Morata said.

Juventus started slowly, as they had done in their weekend draw at Verona, with their only real opening in the first half seeing Chiesa having an effort ruled out for a clear offside.

But the reigning champions were much better in the second period and Ronaldo was unlucky to see his 49th-minute strike hit the post.

Pirlo’s men finally moved in front in the 62nd minute as Morata turned in Federico Bernardeschi’s near-post cross, although the hosts had to wait for VAR to confirm the winger was onside.

Bernardeschi was also instrumental in the second goal, as he got in behind the Spezia defence down the left-hand side.

He squared the ball for Chiesa, whose effort was saved by Ivan Provedel, only for the Juve man to tap in the rebound.

There was still time for Rodrigo Bentancur to launch a Juventus counter-attack, which was finished off by Ronaldo, with the Portuguese forward scoring his 20th Serie A goal of the campaign.

It is the 12th straight season Ronaldo has notched 20 league goals, dating back to his final term with Manchester United, when he netted 18 times in the 2008-09 Premier League season.

Andrey Galabinov missed a penalty deep into injury time for Spezia, who remain in 16th place, seven points above the bottom three, but having played at least a game more than all of their relegation rivals.

Juve sign McKennie from Schalke: Juventus have bought Weston McKennie from Schalke for 18.5 million euros ($22.3 million), the Serie A club announced on Wednesday, ending the American midfielder’s loan spell to make the move permanent.

In a statement, Juve said that an additional 6.5 million euros in add-ons would be paid to Schalke ‘on achieving given conditions over the course of the duration of the contract’.

Juve added that McKennie had signed a new contract that commits him to the Italian champions until the end of June 2025.

McKennie, 22, joined Juve from the German Bundesliga’s crisis club Schalke in the summer on an initial season-long loan.

The US international spent four years in Germany and made 91 appearances for Schalke, but the Bundesliga club found itself in a perilous financial situation after the coronavirus pandemic.

He has impressed for Juve since his arrival in Italy, scoring four times in 31 appearances for the ‘Old Lady’ of Italian football.

Juve said when they announced the initial loan in August that they would buy Texas-born McKennie if he met certain unspecified targets, and on Wednesday the club said “it’s because of this, that as of today, he has become an outright Juventus player”.

Meanwhile, Lazio’s Serie A match against Torino descended into farce on Tuesday as the capital club named a team and turned up at the Stadio Olimpico despite their opponents being stuck in quarantine more than 600km away in Turin following a COVID-19 outbreak.


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