MILAN (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo finally scored with a free kick in the Italian league to help Juventus beat Torino 4-1 on Saturday in a match which also saw Gianluigi Buffon set the Serie A appearance record.
Ronaldo scored Juve’s third goal to take his tally to 25 league goals this season, four behind Lazio forward Ciro Immobile who leads the Serie A scoring charts.
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.
Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri revealed that Ronaldo told him “finally” as he walked off the field at the end of the match.
Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado had scored in the first half before Andrea Belotti’s penalty kick reduced the deficit. Torino defender Koffi Djidji netted an own-goal late on.
Juventus continued its march towards a record-extending 10th straight title as it moved seven points clear of second-place Lazio, which lost 3-0 at home to AC Milan.
The Turin derby was Buffon’s 648th appearance in Italy’s top flight, moving the 42-year-old ‘keeper one ahead of AC Milan great Paolo Maldini, who set the record in 2009. Buffon matched this record on Dec. 18 against Sampdoria.
Buffon only had a couple of saves to make before being faced with a penalty in first-half stoppage time after Matthijs de Ligt was somewhat harshly judged to have handled the ball.
Buffon got a hand to Belotti’s penalty.
Juventus had taken the lead in the third minute when Cuadrado threaded the ball through for Dybala, who beat two defenders before curling in his fifth goal in as many Serie A matches.
Juve doubled its advantage in the 29th when Ronaldo ran from well inside his own half to the penalty area and rolled the ball across for Cuadrado to fire into the bottom left corner.