TURIN: Cristiano Ronaldo converted two penalties as he scored for the ninth Serie A game in a row on Sunday to give Juventus a somewhat flattering 3-0 win over Fiorentina which kept them top of Serie A.
The Portuguese squeezed his shot under Bartlomiej Dragowski in the 40th minute and sent the Fiorentina goalkeeper the wrong way late in the second half to take his tally for the season to 19, including 14 in the last nine games.
Defender Matthijs De Ligt headed the third in stoppage time to add to Fiorentina’s sense of injustice after they held their own for much of the game.
The award of the second penalty, after Rodrigo Bentancur went down under a challenge from Federico Ceccherini, was met with angry protests by the visitors.
Juventus, who bounced back from last week’s 2-1 defeat by Napoli, have 54 points from 22 games, six ahead of Inter Milan who were away to Udinese later on Sunday.
“Ronaldo keeps on scoring and that is good for his state of mind,” said Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri. “He’s in great physical shape and is making the difference. The other forwards also did well and the problem is who to leave out.”
Fiorentina, who suffered their first defeat in five league games under coach Giuseppe Iachini, could easily have scored first as Federico Chiesa forced Wojciech Szczesny to make a fingertip save and Pol Lirola also tested the Juventus goalkeeper.
Instead, Juventus were awarded the penalty after Miralem Pjanic’s shot hit German Pezzella’s raised hand and, after waiting for the referee to confirm his decision with the pitchside monitor, Ronaldo scored with a low shot to his left.
The Portuguese became the second Juventus player to score in nine league games in a row after David Trezeguet.
Marco Benassi was close to a Fiorentina equaliser after halftime while Dragowski did superbly to block Gonzalo Higuain’s close-range effort after a Douglas Costa run.
Fiorentina’s resistance ended when Bentancur slalomed his way through the defence and appeared to run into Ceccherini. However, the defender had his arm raised and the referee gave a penalty which he confirmed after a VAR review.
Ceccherini was booked for dissent and Ronaldo again scored with a shot to his left while Dragowski this time went the other way.
De Ligt outjumped the Fiorentina defence at a corner for the third and Ceccherini protested again to the referee after the final whistle.
“The lads did well, we gave little away against a great team,” said Iachini. “We could have done better with our final pass.”...