Cristiano Ronaldo struck in the final 10 minutes to put Champions League heartache behind him and set up Juventus’ hard-earned 2-0 victory over Frosinone on Sunday.
Sent off against Valencia in midweek, the Portugal superstar gained a measure of redemption by sweeping home from close-range before substitute Federico Bernardeschi netted in stoppage time to maintain the champions’ perfect start in Serie A.
It had looked as though Ronaldo would endure a no less frustrating affair than on his return to Spain, as he failed to convert a succession of chances against the promoted hosts.
But a heavy deflection from Miralem Pjanic’s initial attempt dropped kindly for the 33-year-old to exorcise his demons and Bernardeschi was on hand to crown a well-constructed counter attack.
Reduced to tears on Wednesday, Ronaldo’s mood was hardly helped in a scoreless opening 45 minutes at Stadio Benito Stirpe.
Marco Capuano hooked his poacher’s effort off the line in the seventh minute and a second attempt soon after drew a sharp near-post save from Marco Sportiello.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) September 23, 2018
Irritation turned to angst when he sliced over the bar just prior to the hour before Sportiello, on loan from Atalanta, added to Frosinone’s increasing hope of a famous result.
The goalkeeper bravely dived at Ronaldo’s feet to smother an inventive backheel in a sign of the hosts’ commitment to escaping with a point.
In the end, though, there was to be no denying Juve’s main man.
He finally broke the deadlock in the 81st minute and provided a key pass in the lead-up to Bernardeschi’s breakaway second, the substitute picking out the bottom corner to make safe Juve’s three-point buffer atop Serie A.