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Ronaldo on target again as Juventus go 11 points clear

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MILAN (AP) Juventus extended its lead in Serie A to 11 points after beating Fiorentina 3-0 on Saturday.

Rodrigo Bentancur and Giorgio Chiellini scored and Cristiano Ronaldo added a late penalty to condemn Fiorentina to its first defeat of the season.

Fiorentina dominated for large periods and tested Wojciech Szczesny several times before Juventus doubled its lead and essentially sealed the result.

Second-placed Napoli visits Atalanta on Monday, the day after third-placed Inter Milan travels to Roma.

Juventus hosts Inter on Friday.

“We have started a tough month, with difficult away matches, in the best way possible,” Chiellini said. “December will be important. At the end of the month we can do a first evaluation. But there’s still a long way to go until May.”

There was a touching moment before the match when Chiellini led Juventus to lay a bouquet of flowers in front of the home fans in tribute to former Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who died in March of suspected cardiac arrest at the age of 31.

Juventus appealed for a penalty in the 25th minute when Mattia De Sciglio’s cross hit Cristiano Biraghi’s trailing arm but, after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor, the referee ruled it unintentional.

The visitors took the lead shortly after and Ronaldo was again involved. The Portugal star took away two defenders with a clever run, allowing Bentancur to play a swift one-two with Paulo Dybala and finish into the bottom right corner.

Fiorentina fought hard for the equalizer and went close but Chiellini scored his first goal for two years in the 69th minute.

Juve’s second goal came from a rare source, but its third came from a natural goalscorer.

Fiorentina defender Vitor Hugo blocked Mario Mandzukic’s cross with his hand and Ronaldo stepped up to powerfully dispatch the resulting penalty. It was his 10th goal in his past 11 Serie A matches.

Ronaldo scores as Juventus beats AC Milan 2-0

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Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo scored as Juventus beat AC Milan to move six points clear at the top of the Serie A table.

Mandzukic opened the scoring in the eighth minute, towering over the back of Ricardo Rodriguez and heading in an Alex Sandro cross. Juventus dominated the match, ripping off 15 shots to AC Milan’s five, and Ronaldo finally finished it off in the 81st minute as Joao Cancelo’s shot from a tight angle was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, and the rebound fell right to the Portuguese star who couldn’t miss on the doorstep.

On the other side, Gonzalo Higuain faced his parent club for the first time since moving to AC Milan on loan this summer, and he had a rough day. Higuain had a penalty saved in the 41st minute, with Wojciech Szczesny coming up big after VAR awarded a spot-kick for a Medhi Benatia handball. Before Higuain took the penalty, Ronaldo – his former teammate at Real Madrid – was seen giving whispering something to Szczesny, presumably some advice on potentially defending Higuain’s take.

Then, in the 83rd minute, after receiving a yellow card for a challenge with Benatia, Higuain went absolutely berserk, at which point he was immediately sent off by referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni. It took forever for players to calm Higuain down as he tried to shake off teammates and opponents and get to the referee.

The presence of Benatia in the lineup was in and of itself a talking point even before kickoff, as Juventus manager Maximiliano Allegri dropped fellow center-back Leonardo Bonucci in favor of the Moroccan. Bonucci was sat against his former club, having departed Juventus last summer before returning after just one year.

With the loss, Milan now sits outside the Champions League places in fifth, a point back of Lazio and four behind rivals Inter.

Ronaldo, Chiellini: “We had been in total control” before Man Utd comeback

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To say Juventus feels a bit stung by Manchester United’s smash-and-grab in Turin is an understatement.

The hosts were in control of the match for most of the 90 minutes, going ahead through a sensational Cristiano Ronaldo goal in the 65th minute.

[ MORE: Recap | Mourinho reaction ]

But substitute Juan Mata curled a delightful free kick past Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny, and the Italians bungled a late Ashley Young effort for an own goal in a 2-1 loss, their first at home in a group stage match since 2009.

All told, Juve out-attempted United 21-9, with both clubs registered three shots on target.

“Manchester United did nothing to win the game,” Ronaldo said. “You can’t even talk about luck, because you have to find your own luck and in this case we just gifted it to them.

“Now we’ve got to lift our heads, as we played really well and are still top of the group. … Manchester didn’t do much, they had two chances on set pieces. I know English teams are always looking for set pieces.”

One of Ronaldo’s defenders, Giorgio Chiellini, sounded equally unimpressed.

“We had been in total control, but were very wasteful and forgot the details, because we knew where Manchester United could be dangerous,” said Chiellini. “If we’re going to lose Champions League games like this, it’s best we do it now rather than later on.”

Manager Max Allegri shared similar thoughts, adding that he felt the loss was okay because it was “the least important game” of the group stage.

That’s still a bit weird, considering the away game at United would’ve traditionally been viewed as such (although they did have that win in pocket when Allegri made his comments). From Football-Italia.net:

“I think it’ll do us good in the long run, as we need to learn not to fall asleep in these situations. I saw Manchester United play the same way in the Premier League at the weekend, they did very little for 80 minutes and then won in very similar circumstances.”

Man Utd stuns Juve with late comeback

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  • Ronaldo puts Juve ahead
  • Substitute Mata levels with free kick
  • Young cross turns into late Juve o.g.
  • De Gea stars

Juan Mata froze Wojciech Szczesny with a free kick, and a hopeful Ashley Young cross turned into a match-winning own goal for Manchester United in a 2-1 defeat of Juventus in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Jose Mourinho walked onto the field after the final whistle and cupped his hand to his ear before engaging in arguments with Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala.

United trailed 1-0 in the 86th minute and becomes the first team to beat Juve in a group stage match in Turin since 2009.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a pretty goal of his own for Juve, who stays atop Group H with nine points. United has seven, two more than Valencia, with two matches to play.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Both teams had chances to threaten goal and plenty of decent possession in the first half hour.

Sami Khedira stung the palms of David De Gea with an otherwise unremarkable shot in the 32nd.

De Gea made a fine save moments later as Juve ratcheted up its pressure, and then got help from the goal post when Khedira half-hit a point blank chance.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Paulo Dybala curled a pretty left-footed effort off the cross bar as the second half found its legs early.

Alex Sandro bladed Ashley Young during a United buildup, and saw yellow for his troubles in the 55th minute

Ronaldo got his goal in Willie Mays style, watching a long ball over the top over his shoulder and onto his right foot for a laser finish past De Gea in the 65th.

Miralem Pjanic and Juan Cuadrado both missed the frame with chances to make it 2-0.

Jose Mourinho brought Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata on for the final 11 minutes, and the former immediately helped set Marcus Rashford up for a rip wide of Wojciech Szczesny’s near post.

Moments later, a hopeful cross defied Szczesny when Juve was uncharacteristically mixed up on the goal line. No matter for Mourinho’s Man Utd, who authors a famous win.

Serie A: Ronaldo scores both goals in Juve’s comeback win

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Italy’s to flight…

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 10? | Sunday preview ]

Empoli 1-2 Juventus

Juventus improved to 10 games unbeaten (nine wins) to start the Serie A season, thanks to a second-half comeback spearheaded by a pair of Cristiano Ronaldo goals.

Francesco Caputo put the home side ahead just before the half-hour mark, smashing a left-footed striker past Wojciech Szczesny from near the penalty spot. The comeback began early in the second half, when Paulo Dybala went down in the box and Juve were awarded a penalty kick.

Ronaldo hammered the ensuing spot kick past the goalkeeper to draw Juve level. 15 minutes later, the winner came in seriously stunning fashion. Blaise Matuidi played the ball to Ronaldo 25 yards from goal. He took a touch toward goal and unloaded from 22 yards out. The trajectory of the ball was impossible to track, let alone stop. It sailed toward the upper-90 and found its home in the inside netting. Massimiliano Allegri called the strike “a moment of magic.”

“Those types of moves should be shown to kids in football academies rather than boring them with theory and tactics,” he said after the game. “Tomorrow, so many of them will go out and try to imitate the feat of a superstar: By doing that they will certainly learn more than with abstract concepts.”

Juve’s lead in the title race currently stands at seven points ahead of second-place Napoli’s meeting with Roma on Sunday.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Atalanta 3-0 Parma
Torino 1-1 Fiorentina

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Sassuolo vs. Bologna — 7:30 a.m. ET
SPAL vs. Frosinone — 10 a.m. ET
Cagliari vs. Chievo — 10 a.m. ET
Genoa vs. Udinese — 10 a.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Sampdoria — 1 p.m. ET
Napoli vs. Roma — 3:30 p.m. ET