Ronaldo on target as Juventus cruise before Atletico showdown

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 21st goal this season for Juventus in all competitions. (AFP pic)

MILAN: Cristiano Ronaldo set up Paulo Dybala to score early and added one himself with defender Leonardo Bonucci also on target as Juventus surged 14 points clear in Serie A on Friday with a 3-0 win over lowly Frosinone.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri was taking no chances, even against a side sitting second bottom of the table, ahead of next week’s Champions League last 16, first-leg tie at Atletico Madrid.

The seven-time reigning Serie A champions are also building towards a top-of-the-table clash against Napoli in the San Paolo Stadium on March 3.

Allegri’s side continued their unbeaten run against their outclassed rivals from outside Rome to move 14 points clear of Napoli who host Torino on Sunday.

“A great series of matches commence, coming thick and fast,” warned Allegri as he included Ronaldo alongside Dybala and Mario Mandzukic on the front line.

Defender Bonucci returned from an ankle injury along with captain Giorgio Chiellini who had limped off during their shock Coppa Italia exit to Atalanta on January 30.

Ronaldo set up Dybala to fire in the first goal after just six minutes in Turin as the Argentina forward, who has been overshadowed since the arrival of the former Real Madrid player, scored his first league goal since November 3.

Ten minutes later Bonucci broke through after a desperate goalmouth scramble.

Frosinone goalkeeper Marco Sportiello denied Mandzukic’s diving header with defender Bonucci in place to turn the rebound into goal.

Ronaldo slotted in his 19th Serie A goal and 21st in all competitions on 62 minutes with Rodrigo Bentancur crossing for Mandzukic who provided the assist for the Portuguese striker.

Ronaldo was then replaced by Federico Bernardeschi with the tie against Atletico in mind.

AC Milan, in fourth, travel to Atalanta, one place below in fifth, on Saturday in a battle for Champions League football next season.

Napoli host Torino on Sunday, with Inter Milan, in third, hosting ninth-placed Sampdoria.

Roma play relegation threatened Bologna on Monday after winning their Champions League last 16, first-leg tie against Porto 2-1.