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.