Juventus benefitted from some luck and perfectly used Sassuolo’s aggressiveness against them, feasting on counter-attacks, to take home a precious win that keeps them alive in the Champions League race.
Adrien Rabiot (6 points): he did not look great on the conceded goal, where he got turned around too easily, but he more than up for the mistake on the other end. He opened the scoring against the run of play with a surgical lefty daisy-cutter from distance and played a part in the second goal too, finding Cristiano Ronaldo with a little header to set up the teammate’s fantastic finish. Dejan Kulusevski looked like his best self in this one despite technically playing out of position on the left-wing and finally busted one of his signature sharp passes, perfectly teeing up Paulo Dybala for the third goal that put the nail in the coffin. Arthur did not have a particularly remarkable performance, but it always seems like the team works better, and the ball moves faster when he is out there. Unfortunately, a nagging injury made it a rare occurrence.
Cristiano Ronaldo (4 points): after flopping in the recent bouts, the two star strikers, the other being Paulo Dybala, are neck-and-neck for the shout-out, as each bagged highly technical goals and somehow reached the milestone of 100 goals with the club in the same game. CR7 gets it because his goal, where he duped a defender with a fantastic first touch, was slightly more influential. He embarrassed another center-back with a dummy later in the contest, but the post denied him a much-deserved brace. La Joya instead lofted it over the goalkeeper with his right foot to cap off a two-man fast-break and often successfully weaved his way through the adversaries.
Gianluigi Buffon: he recently announced that he is going to leave Juventus at the end of the season, but it would be easy to argue that, despite his age, he has been the best performer between the sticks this year. He cemented it today by parrying away an early PK by Domenico Berardi that, if converted, would have tilted the game in the same direction the recent disappointing showings by the Old Lady went. He also took a surefire ball out of the bottom corner in the second half. Matthijs De Ligt and Alex Sandro had strong displays in the back against a high-wattage attack, as each prevented a goal with last-ditch interventions, while Leonardo Bonucci struggled and caused a PK.
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