Juventus continued their unbeaten streak in the Serie A as they came from behind to beat Empoli on Saturday evening. A double from Cristiano Ronaldo helped the reigning league champions reach nine wins in their opening ten league fixtures, getting back on track after dropping their first points of the season against Genoa last weekend.
The game wasn’t easy, but Ronaldo’s quality was the difference between the two. His second goal in particular highlighted how important he has already become to Allegri’s team this season, saving his side’s blushes almost single-handedly.
Juventus struggled to pick up where they left off after beating Manchester United 1-0 midweek in the Champions League, leaving Empoli free to get out of the blocks quickly.
It was the underdogs who managed to get themselves on the scoresheet first through Afriyie Acquah, Empoli’s best player on the night, who drove his team forward up the field with a powerful run. The Ghanaian then cut a low cross back, which Francesco Caputo curled into the far corner after Juve failed to clear.
The second half saw Juve come back strong though, Ronaldo stepping up to lash home a penalty less than ten minutes after the restart when Paulo Dybala went down in the box.
With the game tied, Juventus started to get more of a grip on the game, and in the 70th minute Ronaldo fired a rocket into the top left hand corner of the goal to edge Juventus ahead in the game.
Key Talking Point
Everyone expected Empoli to get blown away in this game, but the minnows – with only one win to their name in the Serie A this season – put up a great fight. Quite frankly they outplayed Juventus in the first half.
The game changed early on in the second half when Dybala seemed to be tripped by Bennacer in the box. On replays it looked as if the penalty was rather soft, but there was no VAR-induced change of heart and Ronaldo was allowed to step up and fire home.
From there on, the game was different. Juventus were undeservedly feeling good about themselves, and though Empoli continued to fight, their hopes were ended when Ronaldo crashed a screamer in from distance.
Starting XI: Provedel (7); Antonelli (6), Maietta (6), Silvestre (6), Di Lorenzo (6); Bennacer (7), Acquah (8), Krunic (6); Zajc, Caputo (7), Traore (5).
Substitutes: Leonardo Capezz, Andrea Fulignati, Jacob Rasmussen, Salih Ucan (6), Manuel Pasqual (6), Michal Marcjanik, Antonino La Gumina (6).
Key Talking Point
While Juventus went into this game expecting to blow 18th placed Empoli away, it wasn’t quite that easy for them. The Serie A champions were playing poorly for pretty much the whole game right up until they were awarded a dubious penalty.
Up stepped Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese goalscoring monster crashed home the penalty to draw the teams level but, despite having a foothold in the game, it didn’t seem as if Juve were really going to score again.
Up stepped Cristiano Ronaldo…again. From about 25 yards out, he blasted the ball into the top corner – one of the best strikes of his career, no doubt.
Starting XI: Szczesny (6); Sandro (8), Bonucci (7), Rugani (6), De Sciglio (6); Matuidi (6), Betancur (6), Pjanic (5), Bernardeschi (4); Ronaldo (8), Dybala (6).
Substitutes: Mattia Perin, Leonardo Spinazzola, João Cancelo, Medhi Benatia, Andrea Barzagli (7), Douglas Costa (6), Juan Cuadrado (7).
STAR MAN – In the first half, when every other Juventus player disappointed, Alex Sandro looked like a constant threat. Not only did he burst up and down the left flank time and time again, he also looked like an aerial threat at set pieces.
It seemed the Brazilian was always the best outlet whenever Juventus came forward, and Sandro made sure his interactions were always measured with quality, be it it a pass or a cross.
WORST PLAYER – In the 65th minute Federico Bernardeschi was substituted off for Juan Cuadrado. The wideman really hadn’t produced an awful lot during his time on the field. Unlike Sandro, who operated with class on the opposite flank, Bernardeschi never seemed like a convincing option.
Juventus play Cagliari at home next time out in the Serie A, where they’ll look to continue their impressive unbeaten streak.