Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 to pull four points clear of Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday night. Inter’s title push hit another stumbling block after a 1-1 draw at lowly Lecce while Ante Rebic fired city rivals AC Milan to a last gasp 3-2 win over Udinese.
Ronaldo broke through just before the break, to score in a seventh consecutive league game, and almost set up a second just after for Aaron Ramsey, but the Welsh international rattled the post. Andreas Cornelius scored with a towering header to get seventh-placed Parma back level ten minutes after the break.
But the visitors hardly had time to celebrate when Ronaldo broke through again after latching onto a Paulo Dybala cross for his 11th goal in seven games to bring his league tally this season to 16. “It was important that we win tonight,” said Ronaldo. “Lazio won, Inter drew so it was important to take advantage. Parma pushed forward in the end, we got a little nervous, but we managed to get the result.” The eight-time reigning champions have a four-point cushion on Inter, who have won only two of their last six league games, and are now also under threat from Lazio, who are just two points behind with a game in hand after hammering Sampdoria 5-1 on Saturday.
Antonio Conte’s side had looked set to take maximum points from his hometown team, where he started his footballing career in the 1980s, when Alessandro Bastoni headed the away side in front with 18 minutes remaining. But Marco Mancosu grabbed a precious point for the southerners five minutes after going behind. “For me there’s always great emotion,” said Conte of his return to Lecce. Coming back to the Stadio Via del Mare means going back 30-35 years. I spent my childhood as a ball boy here. There will always be this attachment, but I am a professional and I try to do this job better.”
Lecce — just one point above the relegation zone — were coming off a four-match losing streak, but had held Juventus by the same scoreline back in October. “Congratulations to them, even if conceding this goal leaves a bitter taste in the mouth,” added Conte.
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