MILAN — Cristiano Ronaldo shows no sign of slowing down as he marked his 1,000th official match by scoring a record-equaling goal to help Juventus win 2-1 at Spal in Serie A on Saturday.
Ronaldo scored for an 11th straight league game, matching the Serie A record set by Gabriel Batistuta in 1994 and equaled by Fabio Quagliarella last season.
Ronaldo also hit the crossbar with a free kick late on and had an early goal disallowed.
Aaron Ramsey doubled Juve’s lead in the second half before Andrea Petagna got Spal back into the match with a penalty.
Juventus visits Lyon in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday.
Serie A leader Juventus extended its advantage to four points above Lazio, which visits Genoa on Sunday. Third-place Inter Milan is also playing a relegation-threatened team on Sunday as it hosts Sampdoria.
Spal remained firmly bottom of the table, eight points from safety, after a fifth successive defeat.
Ronaldo thought he had given Juventus the lead in the fifth minute but it was ruled offside on video review.
However, the Portugal forward did get on the scoresheet six minutes from the break, rushing in at the far post to volley Juan Cuadrado‘s cross into the roof of the net.
It took Juventus until the hour mark to double its lead when Paulo Dybala sent in a delightful through ball for Ramsey, who lifted it above Spal goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.
Spal reduced the deficit nine minutes later after Juventus defender Daniele Rugani fouled midfielder Simone Missiroli. After a lengthy wait and the use of video review, a penalty was awarded and Petagna fired it into the bottom right corner.
AC Milan was playing at Fiorentina later. Bologna drew 1-1 at home to Udinese earlier.
Has the global goal of the season already been scored? Quite possibly.
Sampdoria’s Fabio Quagliarella stunned his former club Napoli on Sunday, with the veteran Italian striker flicking home a cross with his back heel brilliantly as his side won 3-0 to grab their first Serie A win of the new season.
He has scored 179 goals in 555 career games, but surely none were better than this. Even though Quagliarella didn’t celebrate the goal (he was born and raised close to Naples), the rest of the soccer world were in shock.
An early header by Aston Villa loanee Carlos Sanchez gave Fiorentina its first win of the season in their home opener, a 1-0 result over Chievo Verona.
The Villa midfielder rose high above Dario Dainello to smash home the only goal of the match. Unfortunately, there was a catch as starting goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu was forced off just before halftime with an injury. The 30-year-old Romanian international took a kick to the head and could not continue.
Roma was left highly disappointed after coughing up a 2-0 lead, finishing 2-2 on the road at Cagliari. Diego Pierotti gave the visitors the lead at Stadio Sant’Elia just six minutes in by slotting home a penalty. Just after halftime, Kevin Strootman doubled Roma’s lead with his first goal since February of 2014 by poking in Edin Dzeko‘s headed assist from point-blank range.
However, it would come undone. Marco Borriello would pull Cagliari back within one just 10 minutes after Strootman’s score by tapping in a rebound, and Marco Sau poked one in at the far post to equalize in the 87th minute, sending Roma back with just a point.
Frank de Boer’s debut at the San Siro ended in a 1-1 draw with Palermo as Mauro Icardi headed home completely unmarked in in the 72nd minute to cancel out Andrea Rispoli’s opener just after halftime.
Torino pummeled Bologna at home 5-1 behind a hat-trick from Andrea Belotti. The trio is the first hat-trick of the 22-year-old’s professional career. Josef Martinez and Daniele Baselli also found the scoresheet for Torino who earned their first points of the season.
Elsewhere, Udinese used a goal in the first five minutes and another late in stoppage time to beat 10-man Empoli 2-0. Genoa scored three goals in an 11-minute span early in the second half to top Crotone 3-1. Sassuolo grabbed all three points at home with a 2-1 defeat of Pescara. Finally, Sampdoria came back from an early deficit to top 10-man Atalanta 2-1. Fabio Quagliarella scored from the spot to level things up and Sampdoria grabbed the winner a minute before halftime behind Paraguayan Edgar Barreto.
For the first time 20 years, Torino defeated Juventus in the Derby della Mole 2-1 after Matteo Darmian and Fabio Quagliarella trumped an Andrea Pirlo free-kick, but it wasn’t without distractions.
Before the match, Torino fans attacked the Juventus team bus, breaking a window before the situation was controlled. During the match, fireworks thrown by Juventus fans exploded, injuring 10 Torino fans, two of them seriously according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
The fan incidents marred what otherwise was a landmark day for Torino, winning for the first time over their cross-town rivals since The Bull swept Juventus in the 1994/95 season. The win is just Torino’s sixth over the last 30 years, a span of 40 matches in all competitions.
Pirlo’s goal came in the 35th minute, putting Juventus up 1-0, but Torino didn’t back down from the league leaders. A charging Darmian equalized just moments before halftime after an odd first touch popped high in the air, but as the 25-year-old defender stuck with it, it fell back at his feet and he touched home from point blank range.
Darmian turned creator in the second half as he burst down the left flank in space and fed Quagliarella for an easy goal on the counter. The defending was shocking for such a stout defensive side as Juventus. The Serie A leaders have conceded just 17 goals this year, seven fewer than anyone else in the league. They still remain 14 points clear at the top, and can clinch the title by besting Lazio’s result next weekend.
Consider what lies ahead for Juventus after today’s 2-2 draw with Galatasaray. Rounds three and four are a home-and-home with Real Madrid. Round six is a trip to Istanbul. Juventus should still be favored to get out of their group, but if Galatasaray sweep their two games with Copenhagen, things get very interesting this time next month. The Italian champions could close group stage with a must-win at the Türk Telekom Arena.
That’s one possibility after today’s the result, the second straight game where Juventus got one point from a match they were expected to win. Last round, the Old Lady was held to a 1-1 in Copenhagen, missing out on points against the group’s weakest side. Today, Didier Drogba took advantage of a Juventus mistake on the opener, with Umut Bulut’s 88th minute equalizer pulling back a lead snatched by Arturo Vidal and Fabio Quagliarella.
It was a match where, despite their obvious quality, Juventus never saw profits from their control. In the 37th minute, an under-hit backpass for Leonardo Bonucci created the first goal, Drogba finishing into an open net Gianluigi Buffon was compelled to abandon. It was the 78th minute before Juve equalized, a contentious penalty call allowing Vidal to convert from the spot, while Quagliarella (brought on early for an injured Mirko Vucinic) headed home a Andrea Pirlo cross in the 86th minute, apparently giving Juventus a win in Roberto Mancini’s Gala debut.
But two minutes later, when Drogba headed down for Bulut, the script flipped, and not just in terms of this match. Instead of sitting on four points and sitting three clear of third place, Juventus are pulled back to two points, scarcely ahead of both Galatasaray and Copenhagen. Now, instead of last round’s result looking like a point found on the road, it becomes a lost chance to offset the points they dropped today.
Those are Group B’s dynamics. More worrisome is Juventus’s actual play. Though they’re near perfect in Serie A (5-0-1), their recent results have evoked their form of two years ago, where close calls and late comebacks defined their title campaign. This weekend against Torino, a second half winner from Paul Pogba obscured the fact the Bianconeri just weren’t playing that well (at least, not close to their potential). Carried over into Europe, that form saw them drop points.
With Carlos Tévez and Fernando Llorente joining the team this summer, Juventus looked set to push on, transferring their Serie A success into Champions League. That clearly hasn’t happened, and seeing how Italy’s other Champions League teams are performing, we have to start considering whether we can infer any more from Juventus’s Italian titles than we can from Porto’s in Portugal or Ajax’s in the Netherlands. Serie A is clearly above those standards, but when you see Napoli so far behind Arsenal’s pace while Milan struggle needs a late penalty to get a result in Amsterdam, it’s worth keeping in mind. The demise of Serie A may be overlooked in some’s excitement about Juventus.
As far as this year’s tournament goes, it’s only two games. Juventus has plenty of time to recover. And when judging Serie A as a whole, it’s only been six games. There isn’t enough information to transform our ideas into conclusions.
But with Juventus struggling, it may be time for new ideas. Antonio Conte will need to come up with a few to get Juventus results against Real Madrid.