Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and substitute Paulo Dybala were enough for Juventus to earn a much needed win over SSC Napoli at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Despite their recent laboured showings, Juve surprisingly hit the ground running against Napoli, creating chance after chance after chance in the opening 15 minutes.
First Ronaldo headed the ball wide from three yards (yes, really), next up Adrien Rabiot headed wide from 10 yards (not so bad), and then Ronaldo broke the deadlock after 12 minutes with a sweeping right-footed strike following some wonderful play down the right flank from Federico Chiesa (good). After taking the lead, Juve completely dominated the rest of the first half, with Chiesa, Juan Cuadrado and co. missing decent chances to make it 2-0.
Napoli grew into the game in the second half following the introduction of Victor Osimhen, with Lorenzo Insigne and Fabian Ruiz both seeing a shots on goal well saved by Gianluigi Buffon, but Dybala – just two minutes after his introduction – would double the home side’s lead with a wonderful curling effort from just outside the penalty area.
In the 88th minute Napoli were gifted lifeline by Giorgio Chiellini, would clumsily chopped down the lively Osimhen in the penalty. Insigne would duly convert the resulting spot kick, but La Vecchia Signora were able to see out the remaining minutes to secure a crucial win.
Here’s the player ratings.
Gianluigi Buffon (GK) – 5/0 – Could do nothing about the Insigne penalty.
Danilo (RB) – 5/10 – The sloppiest of the lot at the back, but didn’t have too much to do and was never really punished for his misplaced passes so it’s all good.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – 6/10 – Had literally nothing to do in the first half, dealt well with balls into the box when called upon in the second and made a brilliant diving block in stoppage time.
Giorgio Chiellini (CB) – 4/10 – Struggled with the ball at his feet, particularly in the second half when Napoli pressed in the final third and needlessly gave away a penalty with a silly challenge in the 88th minute.
Alex Sandro (LB) – 6/10 – Has gone completely off the boil in recent years, but was decent in this one. Worked hard to get forward and look generally competent defensively – which is something not many modern day full-backs can boast about (shoutout Trent Alexander-Arnold).
Juan Cuadrado (RM) – 7/10 – Juventus are a much, much, much better team when Cuadrado is on the right of their midfield.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – 6/10 – Needed to bounce back after his, quite simply, abysmal performance in the Derby della Mole, and he did. Zipped the ball around quicker, showed for the ball more, and generally just looked much sharper.
Adrien Rabiot (CM) – 6/10 – A lot better than usual…which maybe isn’t saying much…
Federico Chiesa (LM) – 8/10 – Fantastic bit of play to wriggle past Elseid Hysaj and drill the ball into the box for Juve’s opener. As lively as ever.
Cristiano Ronaldo (ST) – 7/10 – Fluffed his lines inside the opening two minutes with the goal begging, but he made amends ten minutes later by sweeping the ball into the net.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – 6/10 – Linked up play with the midfield well throughout, and – as per – ran the channels like a prime Shane Long.
Weston McKennie – N/A.
Paulo Dybala – 7/10 – Scored a wonderful goal immediately after his introduction. The most naturally gifted footballer at the club.
Arthur Melo – N/A.