Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace as Juventus ended 2018 still unbeaten in Serie A following the 2-1 victory over Sampordia to set a new point record in the league on Saturday.
Ronaldo scored the opener just two minutes into the match with a powerful strike past goalkeeper Emil Audero before adding a second from the spot in the 66th minute.
But the victory was far from comfortable and when the referee with little help from VAR adjudged Emre Can to have handled in the box, Sampordia were well and truly back in it through Fabio Quagliarella. Like VAR gave awarded them a goal, it also took one away with a late Riccardo Saponara goal cancelled for offside.
The win left Juventus nine points clear of the second-placed Napoli, who beat Bologna 3-2 later on the same day. The reigning champions also have a record number of points before the winter break with 53 from 19 games.
But Ronaldo, now Serie A’s top scorer with 14 goals, kept the Sampordia backline busy throughout the night with his constant runs leaving the visitors on their haunches. His crosses for Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic could have given Juventus more goals while he was denied with a header by a brilliant save from Audero.
He, however, was not to be denied from the spot after Alex Ferrari handled from a corner and the referee confirmed his decision via VAR. The goal was Juve’s 100th of the year.
Sampordia could have well walked off with a point when substitute Saponara made most of a Perin mistake to score the equaliser. But VAR ruled it offside leaving the visitors on fifth still two points behind Lazio, who hold on to the final Champions League spot.