Soccer-Ronaldo saves Juventus blushes as late double downs Udinese

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(Reuters) -Two late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo earned Juventus a 2-1 comeback win against Udinese on Sunday to give the Turin club a precious three points in the Serie A top-four race.

Juve climbed into third place on 69 points, level with Atalanta in second and AC Milan in fourth, but two points ahead of fifth-placed Napoli.

"We made life complicated for ourselves yet again, but the team showed great desire to bring the result home," Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo told Sky Italia.

"There is fatigue, mental fatigue. When you are used to winning the league, not fighting for the Champions League, something changes in everyone's minds.

"But our goal has been changed for a few weeks, we must qualify for the Champions League at all costs."

The visiting defence was caught napping when Udinese wing back Nahuel Molina latched onto a quickly taken freekick to fire home the opener after 10 minutes.

But Rodrigo De Paul stuck out an arm to block a Ronaldo freekick with seven minutes remaining and the Portuguese converted the resulting penalty to end his run of three games without a goal.

Ronaldo then headed in an 89th-minute winner from close range to take his tally to the season to a league-high 27 Serie A goals in 30 appearances.

But the striker's goals papered over the cracks of another poor performance from Pirlo's team.

"If we are satisfied with these 10 minutes, it means that we have not understood anything," Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci told Sky Italia.

"We can't change gear and keep it up for the whole game, that is the hardest thing to understand.

"Matches are decided by episodes, after this many games you need to pay attention to the details. We have dropped points too many times because of the details."

Juve knew before kickoff that they had the chance to gain ground in the top-four race after Atalanta and Napoli drew against Sassuolo and Cagliari respectively.

But they got off to the worst possible start when De Paul found Molina with a quick freekick, and he drilled in a finish.

It was the tenth consecutive league game in which Juve have conceded at least one goal, their worst record since April 2010.

Juve's Weston McKennie was left punching the ground in frustration after heading wide from six yards and Paulo Dybala's deflected shot required a smart save from Simone Scuffet.

But the visitors' chances were few and far between until Ronaldo's decisive contribution in the closing stages.

De Paul's handball gave the Portuguese forward the chance to fire a penalty into the bottom corner, and the 36-year-old turned the game on its head when he nodded in an Adrien Rabiot cross at the back post.

(Reporting by Alasdair MackenzieEditing by Christian Radnedge)