Cristiano Ronaldo stepped off the bench to net a brace as Juventus secured a 4-1 victory over Spezia in Serie A on Sunday.
Ruled out of the Bianconeri’s past four matches after testing positive for COVID-19, the Portuguese forward scored within minutes of entering the pitch to hand Juventus a first away league victory in seven.
Alvaro Morata had tapped Juventus into an early lead and saw a second ruled out for offside, before Spezia equalised through Tommaso Pogeda. With Juventus struggling, Ronaldo made an immediate impact to score and then net a late penalty, either side of Adrien Rabiot’s goal.
Whilst Spezia were organised at the back, Juventus sought to move the ball quickly and it almost paid off as Paulo Dybala spun on the ball in the final third and slipped Morata through. However, from a tight angle the striker could only drill into the side-netting.
The Bianconeri had the ball in the back of the net within 15 minutes as Winston McKennie broke the offside trap from Dybala’s pass and squared for Morata to tap in. Whilst initially ruled out for offside, VAR showed he was behind McKennie when the pass was played.
Juventus were attacking with intent and ought to have doubled their advantage, but Federico Chiesa could only slice wide after latching onto Morata’s threaded pass. Meanwhile, the Spain striker looked to have netted again after racing from the edge of the centre-circle and slotting home, but was denied by the offside flag.
Despite waves of Juventus attacks, were punished for the profligacy as Spezia drew level on the half hour mark. Paolo Bartolomei dribbled into a crowded box from the right and squeezed his way through to tee up Pobega, and his side-footed effort deflected past Gianluigi Buffon.
The visitors came within inches of restoring their advantage on the stroke of half time with the dangerous Morata breaking clear and squaring for McKennie, but Julian Chabot’s clearance on the line prevented the American from applying the finish.
It was Spezia that began the second period the brightest, with Bartolomei leading the charge in a crowded box and cutting back for Matteo Ricci to fire against Juan Cuadrado.
With Juventus labouring, coach Andrea Pirlo turned to Ronaldo in place of Dybala and the Portuguese made an instant impact. Having only been on the pitch for two minutes, Ronaldo latched onto Morata’s through ball to round the goalkeeper and put Juventus ahead.
It was soon 3-1 as fellow substitute Rabiot collected Morata’s pass and danced his way through the box to slot home against the post.
Spezia weren’t without chances of their own and Diego Farias took advantage of Cuadrado’s hesitance to force a good block from close range. Yet the result was put beyond all doubt late on as Claudio Terzi clipped Chiesa in the box, with Ronaldo making no mistake from the spot with a Panenka finish.