Two late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo earned Juventus a 2-1 win over Udinese on Sunday to give the Turin club three valuable points in the Serie A top four.
Juve climbed to third place with 69 points, tied with Atalanta in second and AC Milan in fourth, but two points ahead of fifth-placed Napoli.
The visiting defense were caught napping when Udinese wing back Nahuel Molina landed a quick free kick to shoot the opener after 10 minutes.
But Rodrigo De Paul stuck out an arm to block a Ronaldo free-kick with seven minutes remaining and the Portuguese converted the resulting penalty to end his three-game scoreless streak.
Ronaldo then led a winner in the 89th minute at close range to take his season record to 27 league-high Serie A goals in 30 appearances.
But the striker’s goals masked the cracks in another poor performance from Andrea Pirlo’s side.
“If we are happy with these 10 minutes, it means that we have not understood anything,” said Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci. Sky Italia. “We can’t change gears and keep going for the whole game, that’s the hardest thing to understand.
“Matches are decided by episodes, after so many games you have to pay attention to the details. We have lost points too often because of the details.”
Juve knew before kick-off that they had the chance to gain ground in the top four following the draw between Atalanta and Napoli against Sassuolo and Cagliari respectively.
But they got off to the worst possible start when De Paul found Molina with a quick free kick, and he punched a finish.
It was the tenth consecutive league game in which Juve conceded a position after dropping six yards and Paulo Dybala’s deflected shot required a smart save from Simone Sat at least one goal, his worst record since April 2010 .
Juve’s Weston McKennie has been left to hit the ground frcuffet.
But the visitors’ chances were scarce until Ronaldo’s decisive contribution in the finals.
De Paul’s handball gave the Portuguese forward the chance to take a penalty in the bottom corner, and the 36-year-old turned the situation around by nodding his head as he addressed a cross from Adrien Rabiot at the far post.
Meanwhile, Nahitan Nandez scored an equalizer in the 94th minute to snatch a 1-1 draw for relegation. Cagliari and dent NapoliThe hopes of qualifying for the Champions League on Sunday.
Napoli are fourth in the table, two points behind Atalanta and AC Milan, but Juventus can overtake them by beating Udinese later.
Victor Osimhen held on to a missed pass from Lorenzo Insigne and guided home a 13-minute finish to put the home side in the lead.
Eredivisie: Ajax crowned champion
Ajax were crowned Dutch league champions on Sunday following a 4-0 home beating against the humble Emmen, giving them an unassailable lead and bringing their record domestic league wins to 35.
Jurrien Timber, Sebastien Haller, Devyne Rensch and Davy Klaassen all scored as Ajax passed their relegation-threatened opponents, who had entered the game after three straight wins but fell short of the champions.
The win brings Ajax to 79 points in 31 games, 15 ahead of second-placed PSV Eindhoven, who later play at home on Sunday against Heerenveen but have just four games left.
Ajax retain the title they won two years ago after the championship was canceled during the 2019-20 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Amsterdam club were at the top of the table at the time with AZ Alkmaar after 25 appearances in the 34-game season.
The title win ends an excellent week for Ajax after coach Erik ten Hag also signed a new contract to keep him at the club until June 2023.