The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo may have threatened the status of Mario Mandzukic at Juventus this season, but the duo came together on Sunday evening to put AC Milan to the sword.
Juve extended their undefeated run in Serie A, and reaffirmed their dominance over their peers by leaving Milan will all three points following a hard-fought tie.
It took less than 10 minutes for Juve to make their impact on the match, working the ball forward into dangerous areas while capitalising upon the space created by Ronaldo’s runs.
An in-swinging cross to the far post set Mandzukic up perfectly for a mid-air duel with his marker Ricardo Rodríguez – of which there was only to be one winner.
The powerful striker towered above Milan’s Swiss defender, before planting his forehead firmly on the ball to send it thudding into the top corner.
Young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and his 6ft 5in frame were rendered helpless, and could only look back as the ball rippled the back of the net.
Juve continued to press, though a resilient Milan – much more refined under the guidance of Gennaro Gattuso – weathered the storm and looked for an opening.
A late lapse in concentration however saw Milan fail to clear their lines, with Juve rapidly recycling the ball back into the penalty area.
A save was required from Donnarumma, only for the ball to fall to the feet of Ronaldo merely six yards out.
The five-times Balon d’Or winner did not need to be asked twice, lashing his foot through the ball to send it rocketing into the roof of the net.
Late drama saw tensions boil over on the pitch, as striker Gonzalo Higuain lost his cool with referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni after he awarded a foul against him on his former club.
Higuain was handed a yellow card, only to have it instantly upgraded to red after he unleashed a torrent of abuse in Mazzoleni’s direction.