Juventus got back to winning ways in the Serie A, posting a comfortable 2-0 victory over Brescia in Turin.
The visitors came into the fixture without a win in their last eight league games and they had their work cut out on a ground that they had not won in 18 attempts.
Both sides were in need of the points but for markedly different reasons, with Brescia occupying the relegation spots, while their hosts are engaged in a three-horse race for the Scudetto.
The game started evenly enough but Brescia were rocked by an early concussion to goalkeeper Enrico Alfonso who was replaced by Lorenzo Andrenacci in the ninth minute and their job was made much harder when forward Florian Aye was sent off for two bookable offences in the space of three minutes.
Paulo Dybala put the Bianconerri ahead with an exquisite strike from the ensuing freekick and Juan Cuadrado made sure of the result when he got a well-deserved goal after combining brilliantly with Blaise Matuidi in the second half.
The win sees Juventus climb up three points above Inter Milan ahead of the Nerazzurri's marquee clash with Lazio and here, we shall be highlighting three talking points from the fixture.
3. No Ronaldo, no problem
After initial struggles in the season, Cristiano Ronaldo has bounced back and is currently playing some of the best football of his career.
Despite turning 35 earlier in the month, the Portuguese international has shown no signs of stopping and is currently on a run of having scored in each of his last 10 league matches, bringing his Serie A tally this season to 20 goals from 20 matches.
He would have been looking to equal the record of scoring in 11 consecutive matches (achieved by Gabriel Batistuta in 1993-94 and Fabio Quagriarella last season) but Maurizio Sarri had other ideas.
The 61-year-old handed his talisman a rest, perhaps with the upcoming Champions League fixtures in mind.
It was not only the former Real Madrid man who was rested, with the likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Miralem Pjanic also afforded rests but despite the absence of these players, the Juventus squad is still big enough to get the job done and that was exactly what happened.
2. Problems arising for Brescia
Brescia ended an eight-year hiatus from the Italian top-flight when they won Serie B last season to participate in the Serie A but their elation of competing with the big boys is fast dissipating, as it has not been the glorious return that fans expected.
In what has been a disastrous campaign, the Lombardy side have had no less than four managerial changes, with Fabio Grosso's tenure lasting just three weeks and three matches, while the man he replaced, Eugenio Corini returned to the dugout only to get fired for the second time at the start of February.
Brescia picked up a hard-fought point in Diego Lopez' first match in charge but they have suffered another setback with this defeat to Juventus.
Le Rondinelle are currently seven points adrift of safety and if results do not start improving, they would find themselves making a swift return back to the second division.
1. Giorgio Chiellini makes glorious return from injury
Juventus were dealt a hammer blow when their captain Giorgio Chiellini was ruled out with a long-term injury after damaging his Cruciate Ligament in just the second week of the campaign.
The Italian international is one of the best defenders in the world and in his absence, the Bianconerri have struggled at the back, evidenced by the fact that clean sheets have come at a premium this season.
Their skipper was initially predicted to be out until March but he worked hard and returned to full fitness than expected.
Chiellini has missed a total of 32 matches in the last six months but the Italian champions were boosted by his inclusion on the bench for the clash with Brescia and while warming up, the 35-year-old was given a rousing ovation by an adoring crowd which lasted until he was introduced for stand-in captain Leonardo Bonucci with 18 minutes left.
His return could not have been better timed, as Juventus would need his leadership and defensive solidity as they attempt to retain their league title in addition to winning a long-awaited Champions League.Published 16 Feb 2020, 22:42 IST