STADIO PAOLO MAZZA (Ferrara) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored in his 11th straight Serie A game to send Juventus on their way to a 2-1 win over SPAL on Saturday evening.
The Portuguese’s strike saw him draw level with Fabio Quagliarella and Gabriel Batistuta, who had shared the record for the most consecutive scoring appearances in Italian football’s top tier.
Aaron Ramsey got the second with a fine finish of his own in the second half to ensure Juventus would end the round at the summit despite Andrea Petagna pulling a goal back.
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SPAL actually started the brighter of the two and didn’t seem much like a side stranded at the bottom of the Serie A table and eight points adrift.
The first strike came courtesy of Petagna, though his effort from outside the area probably didn’t qualify as a chance.
Ramsey headed over, Juan Cuadrado fired a wild volley into the stands and the Colombian then passed up another chance to give the visitors their lead early on.
Despite Giorgio Chiellini’s return at the back for Juve they looked troubled in their own defensive third but SPAL weren’t able to capitalise.
Paulo Dybala was lively for the Old Lady and he saw a near-perfect curled strike bounce back off the post after a pinpoint through ball looked to have set up Cristiano Ronaldo for the opener only to be thwarted by the offside flag.
Petagna headed a corner over, Thiago Cionek volleyed off target and Gabriel Strefezza came close to seeing a shot squirm under Wojciech Szczesny but for the Pole to deny it through a combination of his foot and then backside landing on top of it.
Rather inevitably, Ronaldo did open the scoring and got himself amongst the goals for 11th straight game after being found by Cuadrado.
Szczesny was forced down to deny another Petagna strike from outside the area as the Biancazzurri sought an immediate leveller.
The Portuguese came within inches of doubling his tally for the evening just moments after the restart as Juventus broke quickly. Etrit Berisha stretched his right leg as far as he possibly could though and it was just enough, along with a collective exhalation from the Curva Ovest behind him, to divert the shot and send it trickling wide of the bottom corner.
Cuadrado’s frustrations continued as Berisha did well to parry another of the Colombian’s strikes to safety.
Ramsey was the next to threaten, though his whipped effort started slightly too far wide to curl back into the bottom corner and went just wide.
The Welshman got it right on the hour mark though. Dybala slipped a lovely ball through from the right and Ramsey controlled, faced Berisha and dinked it over the Albanian as he went down to double Juventus’ lead.
SPAL were gifted a lifeline when Simone Missiroli went down under a challenge from Daniele Rugani. After a long chat with Marco Di Bello on VAR duty and checking the replays himself, Federico La Penna awarded a penalty.
Never in doubt, Petagna stepped up, sent Szczesny the wrong way and halved the deficit.
Berisha’s goal was left shaking when Ronaldo thumped a freekick off the crossbar. Impressively, the ball made its way straight back to the No.7 who then tried a volley with his left foot, but the second attempt was easily held by the goalkeeper.
Mohamed Fares met a corner at the near post with a glancing header that flew over into the six minutes of stoppage time.