Juventus put their Champions League woes behind them on Monday night with a dominant 3-0 win in Serie A over struggling Crotone at the Allianz Stadium.
Their loss away to Porto last Wednesday had followed a narrow defeat to Napoli in the Bianconeri’s last league outing, but two Cristiano Ronaldo headers and a goal from Weston McKennie powered them past the Gli Squali, allowing them to close in on leaders Inter.
Despite the somewhat comprehensive scoreline, though, it took Andrea Pirlo’s men time to warm up in Turin and had rarely looked threatening until Ronaldo sent a central 25-yard freekick straight into the Crotone wall midway through the first period.
The Portuguese could have opened his account moments later when Federico Chiesa burst into the visitors’ penalty area, only for the slightest of touches from goalkeeper Alex Cordaz deflecting the cross away from the attacker.
Moments after Aaron Ramsey had seen a looping header clip the crossbar on 38 minutes, though, the 36-year-old was celebrating, after carefully directing an Alex Sandro cross past Cordaz with his head.
Two minutes into first-half injury time, Ronaldo was displaying his aerial prowess once more to double the Old Lady’s lead. This time with far greater power, as the Calabrese side started to contemplate a fifth consecutive Serie A defeat.
The former Real Madrid forward could have even secured himself a hat-trick before the referee took the sides in for the break, but his outstretched leg could only send a low cross narrowly past the outside of the post.
Another slow start when the second period commenced had as much to do with Crotone offering little in the way of attacking intent, as Juventus sensing victory was already assured, yet the hosts did not register another shot on target until 65 minutes.
Moments later, though, McKennie was netting a third, after Crotone had failed to defend a Bianconeri corner kick, and the American controlled the loose ball to fire home.
Taking advantage of Roma dropping points at Benevento on Sunday night, to move into third place, the Bianconeri now have AC Milan firmly in their sights, with a game in hand still to play and the Milanese giants just four points ahead of them.