Juventus made light of the absence of a sick Cristiano Ronaldo as their Argentinian connection dazzled in a 4-0 Coppa Italia win over Udinese.
The onset of sinusitis on Wednesday afternoon meant Ronaldo sat out this last-16 tie, but Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala put the game beyond Udinese before the hour mark.
And an outstading five-pass exchange between the Juve strike pair set the tone for the one-sided cup tie, with Higuain netting the 16th-minute opener.
Dybala slotted a penalty 10 minutes later, then struck a sublime third goal in the early stages of the second half.
The former Palermo man would have been on for a hat-trick had he taken the second penalty awarded to Juventus just after the hour. Instead, Douglas Costa took responsibility, safely finding the right corner.
If it had come as a blow to coach Maurizio Sarri to lose Ronaldo so close to kick-off, the former Chelsea boss would have been delighted by the response of his healthy players.
Lazio last year ended Juventus’ run of four consecutive Coppa Italia triumphs, when a surprising 3-0 thumping by Atalanta in the quarter-finals concluded Juve’s quest.
This time Juve will tackle Parma or Roma in the last eight.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 15, 2020
Higuain gave Juventus the lead in style, trading a succession of passes with Dybala on the edge of the Udinese penalty area before being played through by his fellow Argentinian to fire into the left corner.
Udinese appealed for offside, but Higuain had timed his run perfectly and the striker’s finish was emphatic.
Dybala stayed cool from the spot after Federico Bernardeschi was tripped by goalkeeper Nicolas, and it was looking like a long night for Udinese.
A VAR offside ruling denied Higuain, after he tucked home when Matthijs de Ligt’s shot was parried out, but there was no doubt Juventus had a third when the ball next hit the back of the net.
Higuain fed his compatriot on the right corner of the penalty area, and although Nicolas got a touch to Dybala’s shot, it arced in such a way that he had little hope of keeping it out.
Juventus were awarded their second penalty when Bram Nuytinck blocked Daniele Rugani’s shot with his hands, and they were home and dry when Douglas Costa put the ball beyond Nicolas.
What does it mean? No Ronaldo, no problem
Juventus scorched past mediocre opposition here, and they could have had more in the end but four was plenty. The display was reassuring for those Juventus supporters who have seen Ronaldo in such dominating form recently. For Ronaldo himself, this was surely the perfect pick-me-up. For Udinese, another Coppa Italia dream ends. They have never won the Italian cup, coming closest when runners-up in 1922 – the inaugural edition of the competition.
In Ronaldo’s enforced absence, Dybala was excellent at times. There may come a time when regular increased responsibility is thrust his way, given Ronaldo turns 35 next month, and on this evidence he might thrive on that. Juventus struggled when Ronaldo was absent last season, losing three of eight Serie A games when he was missing, but they look better equipped now.
Tough night for Nicolas
He gave away a penalty and was beaten four times, so Udinese goalkeeper Nicolas is unlikely to look back fondly on his visit to Turin. The Brazilian made a number of saves to keep the score down – most of them after the damage had been done.
In the Coppa Italia, Juventus will find out on Thursday who their next opponents are, with Roma and Parma vying for the privilege. In Serie A, Juventus tackle Parma on Sunday, while Udinese head to San Siro to face Milan.
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