AAP Soccer

Ronaldo finally cracks Juve free-kick duck

By AAP Newswire

Cristiano Ronaldo has finally scored with a free kick in Italy's Serie A as he and Paulo Dybala scored for a fourth-straight league game to help Juventus beat Torino 4-1.

The Turin derby marked the record-breaking 648th appearance of veteran Gianluigi Buffon - moving the 42-year-old one ahead of AC Milan great Paolo Maldini, who set the record in 2009.

Buffon matched this record on December 18 against Sampdoria but had to wait for his eighth appearance of the season.

"The only tension I had today was related to the match," he said.

"The importance and the stakes were greater than my personal record.

"Anyway, since I was over 40, I think of the future month after month: at the moment, nothing makes me happier than playing certain games."

Ronaldo scored Juve's third goal to take his tally to 25 league goals this season - making him the first Juve player since 1961 to reach that mark in a season.

It was the 46th club goal Ronaldo had scored in his career direct from a free kick but his first in nearly two seasons with Juventus and on his 43rd attempt.

"I needed to score from a free kick to get some confidence back," the 35-year-old Ronaldo said.

Dybala and Cuadrado had scored in the first half before Andrea Belotti's penalty reduced the deficit.

Torino defender Koffi Djidji netted an own-goal late on.

Juventus continued their march toward a record-extending 10th straight title as they moved seven points clear of second-place Lazio, who lost 3-0 at home to AC Milan.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a penalty on his first start since lockdown to boost Milan's chances of qualifying for the Europa League.

Milan moved above Napoli into sixth spot with their third win in four league games since Italian soccer resumed.

The visitors took the lead at Lazio after Hakan Calhanoglu's effort took a deflection to loop over Thomas Strakosha and into the top left corner.

Ibrahimovic scored on 34 minutes from the spot, the penalty awarded when Stefan Radu charged down a shot with his arm.

Ibrahimovic was replaced at halftime by Ante Rebic who scored his ninth goal in his past 11 league matches to effectively seal the match and damage Lazio's title chances.

Mid-table Sassuolo were twice pegged back before they beat relegation-threatened Lecce 4-2.

Jeremie Boga restored Sassuolo's advantage 12 minutes from time and Mert Muldur all but sealed the match five minutes later.