A second half double from Portuguese maverick Cristiano Ronaldo fired Juventus to a 2-1 victory over Empoli on Saturday.
Juventus continued their unbeaten start to the 2018-19 season, as they came back from a goal down to defeat Empoli 2-1 at Stadio Carlo Castellani this weekend.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri rung in the changes after their 1-0 midweek win over Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. Things did not begin well for the Bianconeri, however, as Francesco Caputo put the home team ahead in the 28th minute with a fantastic strike.
Just nine minutes into the second period, Juventus managed to reinstate parity, as Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched a cool penalty, after Paulo Dybala had been fouled inside the box. The Portuguese international then doubled his tally on the day with a fine strike from distance in the 70th minute, to seal three points for his team.
Juventus’ ninth league win of the season sees them strengthen their hold on top spot in the Serie A, with the gap between them and second-placed Napoli now widened to seven points.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 27, 2018
And here’s how Allegri’s men fared on the day against the Tuscans.
Wojciech Szczesny: 6/10
There was not a lot he could have done to stop Caputo’s brilliant left-footed strike. Was hardly called into action and had very little to do in terms of saves from thereon however, as Juventus went about chasing the game. Alert and composed when needed to be.
Mattia de Sciglio: 6.5/10
The Italian international was handed his first start of the season ahead of Joao Cancelo at right-back. And while he did not always offer the same attacking outlet as the Portuguese does, De Sciglio was a reliable presence in defence for the champions. His run and cross were vital in the lead-up to Dybala winning the penalty.
Leonardo Bonucci: 7/10
The seasoned campaigner was his usual solid self at the back for Juventus, organising the defence well, snuffing out any threat that the home team conjured up. His last-ditch tackle on Caputo was a particular stand out moment, as he helped Juve see out the game.
Daniele Rugani: 6.5/10
Coming into the starting XI in place of Giorgio Chiellini, the 24-year-old hardly put a foot wrong on the day, although he could have gotten tighter to Caputo in the lead up to the goal. Apart from that one blip, Rugani had a fairly comfortable outing, especially after the break when Juventus took the game to Empoli.
Alex Sandro: 7/10
The Brazilian showed no signs of fatigue or tiredness, as he put in another all-action display for the Old Lady, ramping up and down the left flank all game long, just like he did against Manchester United three days ago. Sent in a number of dangerous-looking deliveries into the box, while being responsible at the back, although the cross leading to Empoli’s goal came from his flank.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 5/10
A rather timid display from the Uruguayan international at Stadio Carlo Castellani. Failed to deal with Afriye Acquah’s cross convincingly, with his mishit clearance falling to Rade Krunic, who set Caputo up for the goal. Offered very little drive from the middle of the park and looked tired.
Miralem Pjanic: 6.5/10
The 28-year-old Bosnian midfield metronome was not at his usual level for Juventus against Empoli. Did the basics right, kept things moving smoothly in the middle and hardly misplaced a pass, but lacked the usual penetration and creativity he offers. Did come close to scoring early in the second period, but was denied by the woodwork.
Blaise Matuidi: 6/10
The French World Cup winner was in part culpable for the home side’s goal as he failed to keep up with the run of Acquah in the build up. Made a few important tackles, pressed the opposition, but was a bit scratchy at times with his passing. Got the assist for Ronaldo’s second goal, however, with a simple pass.
Federico Bernardeschi: 4/10
Brought into the starting lineup ahead of Juan Cuadrado, the Italian attacker failed to make any sort of impact on the proceedings. Did not get into dangerous positions regularly and was caught in possession at times. Withdrawn a little after the hour mark.
Paulo Dybala: 6.5/10
Donning the captain’s armband for Juventus on the day, the Argentine was one of their better players in a rather dull first half, as he kept trying to make things happen. Won the penalty, albeit a soft one, that Ronaldo converted in the second period. Not at his best, but a decent display nonetheless. Juventus are undefeated in all games when he has worn the captain’s armband.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 7.5/10
The Portuguese endured a quiet first half, much like the rest of the team, but stood up when it mattered once again, firing a clinical penalty to bring Juventus back on level terms, before unleashing a belter of shot to seal the result. His double on Saturday meant Ronaldo is now the second-highest goalscorer in the Serie A with seven goals, only behind Krzysztof Piatek (9).
Juan Cuadrado: 6/10
Came on to replace Bernardeschi in the 66th minute. Livened things up, but was guilty of trying a little too much by himself on occasions.
Douglas Costa: N/A
Thrown on for Pjanic with ten minutes left on the clock.
Andrea Barzagli: N/A
Replaced De Sciglio in the stoppage time.