A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick helped Juventus start 2020 in perfect fashion as the Old Lady eased past a subpar Cagliari 4-0.
The Sardinians entered the match in a surprising sixth place, but they offered little resistance to extend their winless run against the Bianconeri to 18 matches in Serie A play.
Juventus dominated the match from start to finish, with Ronaldo netting his first hat-trick for the Bianconeri to put them atop the Serie A standings ahead of Inter’s clash with Napoli later this evening.
Neither side created much of anything for long stretches, but it was Juve that looked the more lively of the two in the opening half. Aaron Ramsey and Paulo Dybala fired efforts off target, while Robin Olsen did well to stop a Ronaldo header, though the Portuguese ace was offside.
The best scoring opportunity fell to Merih Demiral when he got on to a Miralem Pjanic corner, only for his effort to come back off the crossbar.
Cagliari’s only real chance of the first half came in the 40th minute. The away side carved out a counter that saw Giovanni Simeone pick out Radja Nainggolan in the Juve penalty box, only for the Belgian to slip and scuff his shot.
For all of their frustrations, Juve kept their cool to break the deadlock immediately after the restart. A poor Ragnar Klavan pass for Sebastian Walukiewicz was intercepted by Ronaldo, and after skipping past Olsen, he made no mistake in firing home to give the home side the advantage.
It was nearly 2-0 soon after when the Bianconeri fired a cross into the near post that fell to Dybala, but Olsen denied the Argentine and also parried away the rebound that involuntarily came off Klavan.
Cagliari responded with a Simeone header that hit the crossbar, while Olsen did well to stop a Dybala free kick from sneaking into the back of the net.
Things were made even more difficult in the 66th minute when Dybala was taken down in the box by Marko Rog. Ronaldo stepped up and calmly slotted home for his brace.
Gonzalo Higuain came off the bench and fired home after finding ample space down the left flank, while Ronaldo comfortably collected a Douglas Costa pass and squeezed the ball under Olsen to get his hat-trick and heap even more misery on the away side.
From there the match had little more to offer, and while Joao Pedro found time to fire a shot off the post, it was Maurizio Sarri’s side that ended the match in complete control to sit three points up on Inter for the time being.