Juventus shot up to 2nd in the Serie A table with a 4-1 win over newly-promoted La Spezia at the Orogel Stadium Dino Manuzzi in Cesena. The scoreline was a bit harsh on the home side, as they caused Juve plenty of issues right until Cristiano Ronaldo entered the pitch to save the day.
Juventus began the game well and dictated much of the play in the early stages. They made their dominance count when great interplay from Danilo and Weston McKinnie allowed the latter to tee up Alvaro Morata for the opening goal in the 16th minute. The Bianconeri spurned a couple of chances, and were made to pay as Tommaso Pobega scored a well-deserved equaliser for Spezia in the 32nd minute.
In times of trouble, there's no one better to call upon than Cristiano Ronaldo, and he answered Andrea Pirlo's call. The Portuguese talisman scored a few minutes after coming on in the 56th minute. Adrien Rabiot extended Juventus' lead in the 68th minute, running on to a long ball and beating a defender to score.
The game was finally over as a contest in the 75th minute as Paolo Bartolomei conceded a soft penalty for fouling Federico Chiesa in the box, with Ronaldo unleashing a Panenka to score from the spot. Juventus saw out the rest of the game, winning by a 4-1 margin and earning a crucial three points.
Here are five major talking points from the game:
#5 Alvaro Morata looks a player reborn
There were plenty of snide and sarcastic comments aimed at the unfortunate Alvaro Morata after scoring a hattrick of disallowed goals against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. Yet, the Spanish striker looks to have rediscovered his confidence at Juventus, and looks miles better than the player who took to the pitch for Atletico Madrid and Chelsea in recent seasons.
For once, VAR came to Morata's aid for the game's opening goal, and even after he had another goal disallowed, the Spaniard kept at it, stitching together play incredibly well. He really ought to have two assists after laying the ball on a plate for Federico Chiesa and Weston McKinnie, only for his teammates to let him down.
Of course Cristiano Ronaldo is far more dependable, so when Morata found him with a delicious diagonal through ball, he finally got a well-deserved assist. Paulo Dybala may be struggling, but as long as Morata turns in performances like these, Pirlo need not worry about his attacking pair.
#4 Spezia have the quality to survive
Despite the 4-1 scoreline, Spezia looked quite impressive against Juventus. Curiously enough, this was the first time they lost to their fellow Bianconeri, having last met when Juventus were in Serie B after the Calciopoli scandal. Spezia defeated their much-vaunted opponents in Turin by a 3-2 scoreline in 2006/07, while managing a draw at home.
There was no such miracle this time around, although for almost an hour, it seemed as though Spezia could pull it off. Manager Vincenzo Italiano set about to hit Juventus with fast breaks on the counter, with striker M'Bala Nzola causing Leonardo Bonucci and co. plenty of problems with his constant running of the channels and excellent hold-up play.
Spezia are now 16th in the table with 5 points from 6 games, but having shown that they can cause the big boys plenty of problems, they are not staring at a swift return to Serie B as many predicted.