Cristiano Ronaldo continued his hot streak as his towering header gave Juventus a 2-1 win over Sampdoria to put Juventus top of the table as Gianluigi Buffon equalled Paolo Maldini's Serie A appearance record.
Ronaldo met Alex Sandro's looping cross with an incredible leap and header just before half-time to put Juve on 42 points, three ahead of Inter ahead of their match with struggling Genoa on Saturday.
“I'm really happy with the result... It was a really good goal also because it was the one that won the three points,” said Ronaldo, who earlier in the season was off-form amid injury concerns.
“Like I said before I'd had pain in my knee for around a month, but now I'm OK and now I want to help Juventus win trophies.”
His 10th league goal of the season came after Samp's Gianluca Caprari had levelled Paulo Dybala's superb volleyed opener.
The Argentine met Alex Sandro's raking cross in the 19th minute with the most delicate of volleys, caressing the ball past Emil Audero from the edge of the box.
Maurizio Sarri's side had so much of the ball it already looked home and dry but it failed to capitalise on its possession and was punished by Gianluca Caprari 10 minutes before the break, the Italian pouncing after Sandro was caught on the ball to crash his finish past Buffon.
However Ronaldo soon sparked into action, first fizzing in a cross that both Gonzalo Higuain and Dybala just only just failed to get contact on.
The Portugal forward then put the away side back in front in the final minute of the half with his sixth goal in five matches in all competitions, a hanging header from another pinpoint Sandro cross.
The 34-year-old twice came close to a second in the dying seconds, first when he was ruled to be in an offside position after latching on to Aaron Ramsey's through ball and tapping past an onrushing Audero.
He then flashed a curling shot just wide in added time as Juve closed out what was a tight match against Claudio Ranieri's side, who sit just two points above the relegation zone.
Ronaldo thrilled after 'NBA-style' header
Ronaldo told Sky Sport Italia : "I'm very happy with the result. It's been a very difficult match against a Sampdoria team who played well. We managed to do even better and deservedly got this victory.
"The team played with a great attitude. The goal was great, especially because it was decisive for winning the three points. I didn't know I was up [in the air] so long."
Ronaldo and Juventus now turn their focus to taking on Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.
"A final always starts at 50-50," Ronaldo said. "Lazio have an excellent team, but I'm convinced that Juve can win the match."
Ranieri's Sampdoria side lacks firepower and sits 16th in a table that is topped by Juventus.
Despite its troubles in front of goal, Samp was competitive for long stretches, but rarely looked capable of finding a second equaliser.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, Ranieri said: "I'm very satisfied with the performance of the boys.
"When they [Juventus] scored goals like this, we just have to admire them as two masterpieces.
"Ronaldo scored in NBA style - he was up there for an hour and a half."
Ranieri acknowledged the lack of a clinical touch in attack, saying the team's next challenge was "finding the goal, because currently that's our worry".
"I hope we get to score more often," he added. "Little by little there is more serenity."
Buffon reaches landmark
The win, gained early in the week ahead of Sunday's Italian Super Cup clash with Lazio in Riyadh, was a further source of happiness for Buffon, who made his 647th Serie A appearance in place of the injured Wojciech Szczesny.
The 41-year-old also became Juve's all-time record appearance maker on 479 matches, one ahead of Alessandro Del Piero.
( With inputs from Omnisport )
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