MILAN, Dec 16 — Cristiano Ronaldo scored from the spot as Juventus saw off city rivals Torino 1-0 to hammer home their domination in Serie A yesterday.
Juventus travelled to the Stadio Olimpico after their year-long unbeaten record away from home ended with a shock 2-1 Champions League defeat by Young Boys in Bern.
But Ronaldo slotted in his 11th league goal this season, and 5,000th for Juventus in Serie A, after 70 minutes after Torino goalkeeper Salvador Ichazo fouled Mario Mandzukic.
Juvenuts are now 11 points ahead of second-placed Napoli, who travel to Cagliari today.
Inter Milan are third, 14 points behind the leaders, after Mauro Icardi’s 76th-minute penalty sealed a 1-0 win over Udinese earlier yesterday.
Torino’s hopes of a rare ‘Derby della Mole’ victory took a knock when goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu hobbled off injured after 20 minutes, to be replaced by Ichazo.
Sirigu had hurt his hip and aggravated it further by pulling off a save of a Ronaldo volley. The 31-year-old tried to continue before being replaced by Uruguayan Ichazo.
Torino proved dangerous for the champions with Andrea Belotti forcing a one-handed save from Juventus goalkeeper Mattia Perin, with Armando Izzo nodding over after 51 minutes.
But a poor backpass from Simone Zaza to Ichazo saw the Torino goalkeeper foul Mandzukic and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo made no mistake from the spot.
The Portuguese is now level with Serie A’s top scorer Krzysztof Piatek of Genoa on 11 goals.
Croatian World Cup runner-up Mandzukic thought he had scored a second four minutes later when he had the ball in the back of the net, but was ruled offside.
It was the seventh straight league win for unbeaten Juventus since being held by Genoa.
Torino stay sixth, four points off the Champions League berths, after their fourth defeat of the season.
Icardi’s Inter hit back
Earlier, captain Icardi got Inter back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Udinese.
Luciano Spalletti’s side were reeling after their midweek Champions League exit and falling 1-0 to Juventus last weekend in Turin.
But Icardi slotted in after 76 minutes at the San Siro with a cheeky ‘Panenka’ into the centre of goal after a penalty was awarded for a Seko Fofano handball.
It was the 25-year-old’s ninth league goal this season and 120th for the club, and pulled Inter to within three points of second-placed Napoli and 11 of leaders Juventus, who played city rivals Torino yesterday.
The Argentine also hit the back of the net with a second goal after 89 minutes but it was ruled offside.
“It’s the signal we had to give after Tuesday’s game,” said Icardi. ”The disappointment can be forgotten by winning, we have to finish this year in the best way we can.”
Spalletti has been under increasing pressure after Inter let slip their chance to advance in the Champions League after a 1-1 draw with PSV Eindhoven.
Inter missed several chances to break the deadlock in the opening half, goalkeeper Juan Musso notably denying Keita Balde and Kwadwo Asamoah.
Joao Mario then fired over the bar and an Icardi header flew past the post.
Udinese had a chance after the break when Fofana broke through and set up Rolando Mandragora but his effort was over the bar.
The Ivorian midfielder also created chances for Rodrigo De Paul and Ter Avest before his handball resulted in the penalty which Icardi converted.
Icardi had a rare miss in front of goal when he headed wide six minutes earlier after a Keita cross.
“Icardi completes the work of the team as the perfect centre-forward,” said Spalletti. “In the last couple of games, Icardi has done that perfectly.”
“Apart from the start of the second half, when we got a bit unbalanced in a bid to break the deadlock and send a signal this game had to be won, we otherwise controlled the match.”
The club’s new general manager, Giuseppe Marotta, watched in the tribunes alongside Inter’s Chinese president Steven Zhang.
Former Juventus CEO Marotta was appointed during the week. — AFP