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JUVENTUS EXTENDS SERIE A LEAD BY SEVEN POINTS WITH LECCE WIN

Juventus extended their lead at the top of Serie A, but were made to work hard for their 4-0 win over 10-man Lecce on Friday night.

The hosts started very poorly indeed against the Serie A strugglers, but their task was made all-the-more easier after Fabio Lucioni was given a straight red card in the 31st minute after he as adjudged to be the last man when fouling Rodrigo Bentancur.

Eight minutes into the second half and Juventus made their numerical advantage count as Cristiano Ronaldo fed Paolo Dybala, who curled a fine strike into the top corner to net his second in as many games.

Ronaldo then got in on the act as he netted his ninth Serie A penalty of the season to make it two in the 62nd minute, before Gonzalo Higuain and Matthijs de Ligt made sure of the win late on that sends Juve seven points clear at the top of the table as they close on their ninth successive Scudetto.

With Maurizio Sarri under pressure for his perceived negative style of football, Juventus did little to appease their disgruntled fans watching from afar as they laboured early on against a determined Lecce, who had the better of the early openings.

A wayward overhead kick from Ronaldo was all Juve had to show from the opening half hour before Lucioni let Rodrigo Bentancur steal the ball off him, before fouling the Juve midfielder and being sent off for being the last man.

That lifeline finally sparked the hosts into life, with Federico Bernardeschi somehow contriving to miss from two yards out just before the interval. After the break, the goals finally came as Dybala collected a pass from Ronaldo before finding the top corner, before Ronaldo won and scored the penalty to put his side in command.

A Ronaldo back-heel then set up substitute Higuain for his first goal sine January five minutes from time, before De Ligt headed home Douglas costa’s cross to cap an unconvincing but comprehensive victory for Sarri’s side.

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