Juventus Semi-Final Clash Against AC Milan Postponed Over Coronavirus

 

 

The Italian Cup semi-final clash between Juventus and AC Milan has been postponed as fears mount over the coronavirus epidemic in northern Italy, local authorities in Turin announced on Tuesday.

The match was due to take place on Wednesday night at Juve’s Allianz Stadium with fans from most of Italy able to attend but Claudio Palomba, the prefect of the Turin province, said that the government’s restrictions on who could attend sporting events weren’t enough to guarantee safety.

The decision, said Palomba, was made on the basis of “assessments made by the Piedmont region’s crisis unit” and regional health councilor Luigi Icardi, who insisted on “avoiding large public gatherings”.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Suffer Second Defeat As Chelsea Advance To FA Cup Quarter-Finals

No new date has yet been fixed for the second leg of the last-four tie, which is level at 1-1 following the first match at the San Siro last month.

News agency Ansa reports that the Milan players were told of the news while in their hotel in Turin ahead of the match.

On Tuesday the number of deaths in Italy caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus jumped to 79 with more than 2,500 people infected — the most of any country in Europe.

Fifty-five of those deaths have been recorded in the northern Lombardy region, with Emilia-Romagna reporting 18 deaths and Veneto also hard hit.

The match had been scheduled to take place behind closed doors, but then a government decree enabled fans who did not live in those three regions and two other provinces in Liguria and Le Marche to attend the match.

The announcement by the prefect, who in Italy is the state’s representative within a particular province, ended that loosening of restrictions.

Italian media reports on Tuesday said that a scientific committee advising the government has suggested spectators should be banned from attending sporting events for a month.

AFP

Ronaldo Marks 1,000th Game With Serie A Record

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo shoots a free-kick next to Juventus' Argentine forward Paulo Dybala during the Italian Serie A football match SPAL vs Juventus on February 22, 2020 at the Paolo-Mazza stadium in Ferrara. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP
Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo shoots a free-kick next to Juventus’ Argentine forward Paulo Dybala during the Italian Serie A football match SPAL vs Juventus on February 22, 2020 at the Paolo-Mazza stadium in Ferrara. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a record-equalling 11th consecutive Serie A game in his 1,000th professional match as Juventus extended their league lead on Saturday with a 2-1 win over basement club SPAL.

The 35-year-old tapped in six minutes before the break to equal the mark held by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season for Juventus, including 16 in his current run of 11 matches.

Aaron Ramsey added a second after an hour, before Andrea Petagna pulled one back from the spot for SPAL, amid controversy as the penalty was awarded following a VAR review despite the pitchside monitor not working.

It got Juventus back to winning ways away from home after consecutive defeats against Napoli and Hellas Verona, and ahead of next week’s trip to French club Lyon in the Champions League last 16, first leg.

Maurizio Sarri’s side opened up a four-point lead on second-placed Lazio who travel to Genoa on Sunday.

Inter Milan are six points behind the champions before their game at home against Sampdoria.

“These were very difficult matches and in the last few years we had never won here,” said Sarri.

“The test was to collect the three points, then from tomorrow morning we will study Lyon thoroughly.

“The goal is the championship. The Champions League is a dream, even if in life it is always nice to achieve dreams.”

Ronaldo had an early goal ruled offside but made no mistake when running onto Juan Cuadrado’s low cross after Ramsey’s ball forward.

The Portuguese forward drew level with Sampdoria forward Quagliarella, who in January 2019 equalled the mark previously achieved by Batistuta in 1994-1995 for Fiorentina.

Both Italian Quagliarella and Argentine Batistuta went on to finish the seasons as the Serie A top scorer after their feat, with both scoring 26 goals in total.

Ronaldo has 21 goals in Serie A this season, five behind leading scorer Ciro Immobile.

Milan held in Tuscany

Ramsey doubled Juve’s lead on the hour mark, latching onto Paulo Dybala’s pass to produce a scooped lob over SPAL goalkeeper Etrit Berisha for his second league goal of the season.

Petagna pulled one back with a penalty awarded for a Daniele Rugani foul on Simone Missiroli after 68 minutes, a decision made by VAR officials with referee unable to check the faulty monitor.

“Today we had goals scored using VAR when VAR wasn’t working,” said Sarri.

“It seems to me a great injustice — if the monitor does not work, the referee must decide.

“I understand that the regulation allows this and (referee Federico) La Penna explained it to me, but I don’t agree with it.”

Ronaldo missed a chace for a second when his free-kick hit the crossbar, but Sarri’s side earned a valuable three points against an outfit they had failed to beat away from home in the previous two seasons.

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini made his first start since being sidelined with a cruciate ligament knee injury last August, playing for 55 minutes in Ferrara.

“We’re taking it slowly, seeing how he reacts,” added Sarri.

“He can’t play three games in six days that’s for sure.”

AC Milan missed the chance to move ahead of sixth-placed Napoli into the Europa League places with a 1-1 draw at 10-man Fiorentina, to stay behind the southerners on goal difference.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a goal ruled out in the first half for a handball with Milan also losing goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to a foot injury seven minutes after the break with Asmir Begovic making his debut.

Ante Rebic scored his sixth goal in as many league games in the 56th minute to give Milan the lead.

Fiorentina’s Dalbert was sent off for a foul on Ibrahimovic, leaving the hosts a man down for the final half an hour.

But Erick Pulgar grabbed a point for 13th-placed Fiorentina from the spot with five minutes to go for an Alessio Romagnoli foul on Patrick Cutrone.

 

AFP

Lazio Topple Inter To Go Second Behind Juventus

 

Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi gave warning his side are ready to fight for their first Serie A title since 2000 after moving into second in Serie A on Sunday, just one point off leaders Juventus after a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Inter Milan.

Juventus reclaimed pole position thanks to Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado’s goals as the Turin giants rediscovered their winning form 2-0 at home against Brescia.

Inter Milan dropped from top spot to third — three points behind the eight-time reigning champions — after falling to just their second defeat of the season.

“We need to stay humble and focused but I’m sure we will succeed. We have nothing to lose,” said Inzaghi.

“We know that Juventus and Inter are two great teams and we will do everything to fight to the end, knowing that it will be very difficult.”

In a fiery clash in the Stadio Olimpico defender Ashley Young broke through just before the break with his first Serie A goal for Inter Milan after his move from Manchester United.

The 34-year-old got his foot to tap-in off a rebound after Thomas Straskosha had cleared from former Lazio player Antonio Candreva.

A Stefan de Vrij foul on Ciro Immobile allowed the Serie A top scorer to slot in his 26th goal in 24 games this season, five minutes after the break.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic snatched the winner after 69 minutes amid confusion in front of the goal.

“We gifted Lazio two goals,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte as the northerners fell to their second defeat after Juventus in October.

Lazio extended their unbeaten run to 19 games as they target their second Scudetto, with a return to Champions League football on the cards for next season.

Ronaldo rested

In Turin, Argentine forward Dybala curled in a perfect free-kick six minutes before the break, shortly after Brescia’s Florian Aye was sent off for two yellow cards in quick succession.

Colombian Cuadrado tapped in the second from close range after a Blaise Matuidi cross with 15 minutes to go, to get back winning after two away defeats.

“We did what we had to do,” said Juve coach Maurizio Sarri.

Cristiano Ronaldo was rested, but veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini returned after a long injury layoff.

“Cristiano had to rest, he cannot play 75 games a year between the national team and club, we decided to let him recuperate,” said Sarri.

Sarri said 35-year-old skipper Chiellini had been desperate to get onto the pitch, after nearly six months off with a cruciate knee injury.

“He said it yesterday, he has made six months of sacrifices and wanted to play the last quarter of an hour, and I found myself next to him when he had already taken off his tracksuit.”

The champions did not have it all their own way against Brescia, who stay second-from-bottom, seven points from safety after extending their winless run to nine games.

Enrico Alfonso went off after just 10 minutes following a knock to the head, with substitute Brescia keeper Lorenzo Andrenacci pulling off some fine saves.

Mertens lifts Napoli

In Sardinia, Napoli got back to winning ways with a Dries Mertens’ 65th-minute goal sealing a 1-0 success over Cagliari.

The Belgian completed a give-and-go with Elseid Hysaj with the ball curling in with a deflection off the post.

It was the 32-year-old’s 120th goal for Napoli, one short of Marek Hamsik’s all-time record, and five ahead of club legend Diego Maradona.

“Dries is a phenomenon, a champion who makes difficult things seem simple,” said coach Gennaro Gattuso.

Gattuso’s side overtake Cagliari, moving up to eighth, two points off the Europa League berths, as Cagliari drop to 11th place.

Hellas Verona missed the chance to close in on fifth-placed Roma, who fell 2-1 at Atalanta on Saturday, with a goalless draw at Udinese.

In the Champions League race, Atalanta are fourth, six points ahead of Roma.

Verona, in the sixth, occupies the final Europa League spot ahead of Parma on goal difference, but stay four points behind Roma.

AFP

Ronaldo Penalty Double Sends Juventus Six-Points Clear

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his second penalty, and his 50th goal with Juventus, during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Fiorentina on February 2, 2020 at the Juventus Allianz stadium in Turin.
Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo stretched his scoring streak to nine consecutive league games with a penalty double on Sunday as Juventus bounced back from last weekend’s defeat to Napoli with a 3-0 win over Fiorentina.

The Portuguese striker slotted in both his goals from the spot in either half in Turin with Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt heading in a third in injury time.

Maurizio Sarri’s side open up a six-point lead on top of the Serie A table on second-placed Inter Milan, who travel to lowly Udinese later on Sunday.

Juventus had fallen to just their second defeat of the season last weekend at Sarri’s former club Napoli, despite Ronaldo scoring.

READ ALSO: Man United Frustrated By Top Four Finish, Says Shaw

Fiorentina, in 14th position, have had a resurgence in form since Giuseppe Iachini took over on December 24, and had been unbeaten in the league this year.

They tested Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny early with the Pole getting his hand to deny Federicio Chiesa’s back-heel kick and a Pol Lirola effort.

Fellow Pole Bartłomiej Dragowski denied Rodrigo Bentancur at the other end before a VAR viewing confirmed Fiorentina’s German Pezzella had handled the ball in the area.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo made no mistake, slotting in five minutes before the break.

His second came ten minutes from time after Federico Ceccherini brought down Rodrigo Bentancur.

Ronaldo made it 14 goals in nine games to bring his tally to 19 this season, including seven penalties.

The former Real Madrid player has now scored 50 goals in 70 games since moving to Juventus in 2018.

The 34-year-old also becomes the first Juventus player to achieve a run of goals in nine consecutive league games since David Trezeguet in December 2005.

De Ligt nodded in a Paulo Dybala cross after 91 minutes to hand Iachini his first league defeat with the Tuscany side.

Third-placed Lazio will try to close the gap on Juventus against struggling SPAL later on Sunday.

Roma’s fourth position, however, is now at risk after losing 4-2 to Sassuolo on Saturday.

Atalanta are just a point behind in fifth before they play relegation-candidates Genoa looking to move into the final Champions League berth.

AFP

Ronaldo Brace Pulls Juventus Clear As Inter Stalled In Lecce

 

Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 to pull four points clear of Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday.

Inter’s title push hit another stumbling block after a 1-1 draw at lowly Lecce while Ante Rebic fired city rivals AC Milan to a last gasp 3-2 win over Udinese.

Ronaldo broke through just before the break, to score in a seventh consecutive league game, and almost set up a second just after for Aaron Ramsey, but the Welsh international rattled the post.

Andreas Cornelius scored with a towering header to get seventh-placed Parma back level ten minutes after the break.

But the visitors hardly had time to celebrate when Ronaldo broke through again after latching onto a Paulo Dybala cross for his 11th goal in seven games to bring his league tally this season to 16.

The eight-time reigning champions have a four-point cushion on Inter, who have won only two of their last six league games, and are now also under threat from Lazio, who are just two points behind with a game in hand after hammering Sampdoria 5-1 on Saturday.

Antonio Conte’s side had looked set to take maximum points from his hometown team, where he started his footballing career in the 1980s, when Alessandro Bastoni headed the away side in front with 18 minutes remaining.

But Marco Mancosu grabbed a precious point for the southerners five minutes after going behind.

“For me there’s always great emotion,” said Conte of his return to Lecce.

“Coming back to the Stadio Via del Mare means going back 30-35 years.

“I spent my childhood as a ball boy here. There will always be this attachment, but I am a professional and I try to do this job better.”

Lecce — just one point above the relegation zone — were coming off a four-match losing streak, but had held Juventus by the same scoreline back in October.

“Congratulations to them, even if conceding this goal leaves a bitter taste in the mouth,” added Conte.

Ibrahimovic boost

Croatian forward Rebic hit a brace, including the stoppage time winner, against Udinese that snatched a dramatic win that gave troubled AC Milan back-to-back league victories and moved them up to eighth, two points from the Europa League spots.

Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his first start at the San Siro after scoring last weekend at Cagliari.

The 38-year-old Swede did not get to celebrate in front of the home crowd but he has provided a confidence-boost for the seven-time European champions, who have taken seven points in three matches since his return.

“The arrival of Ibrahimovic has given us even more depth and conviction, which has helped us,” said coach Stefano Pioli.

Former Liverpool and Chelsea attacker Fabio Borini, who left Milan on Tuesday, scored his first goal on his debut for new club Hellas Verona in a 1-1 draw at Bologna that leaves them a further two points.

In the race for the Champions League, Roma bounced back from back-to-back league defeats with a 3-1 win over struggling Genoa that put them back in the top four, three points in front of fifth-placed Atalanta ahead of their match with SPAL on Monday.

Cengiz Under opened the scoring after just five minutes and the match looked as good as won a minute before the break when a cross from Leonardo Spinazzola — whose move to Inter broke down midweek — bounced in off Genoa’s David Biraschi.

Former Lazio striker Goran Pandev quickly pulled a goal back but Edin Dzeko had the last word with 16 minutes to go, pouncing on a error from goalkeeper Mattia Perin to send Genoa below Brescia into penultimate position.

Mario Balotelli came on late for lowly Brescia and was sent off just seven minutes later in a 2-2 draw against sixth-placed Cagliari.

The Italy forward entered the field in the 74th minute, but received a yellow card for a foul on Fabio Pisacane before picking up a second when he turned to argue with the referee.

Ronaldo Scores First Serie A Hat-Trick As Ibrahimovic Returns To Italy

A photo combination of Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo and AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first Serie A hat-trick to lift Juventus top of the table with a 4-0 win over Cagliari on Monday, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic made an “emotional” return for AC Milan in a goalless draw against Sampdoria.

Ronaldo struck for the fifth consecutive league game as the champions bounced back from their Italian Super Cup defeat by Lazio to move ahead of Inter Milan who play Napoli later Monday.

“I’m happy with this first (league) hat-trick. But the important thing is the team, which played very well,” said Ronaldo, who brought his league tally to 13 goals in 15 games this season.

“We had to win today and put pressure on Inter.”

READ ALSO: Nadal On Fire As Spain Crush Uruguay At ATP Cup

Cagliari held off Maurizio Sarri’s Juve early on, but the second half was all one-way traffic with 34-year-old Ronaldo breaking the deadlock just after the interval.

The Portuguese striker added a second from the penalty spot on 67 minutes then set up Gonzalo Higuain who came off the bench to strike a third nine minutes from time, before completing his hat-trick a minute later.

Juve are three points ahead of Inter in the table with Antonio Conte’s side travelling to eighth-placed Napoli looking to keep pace with the eight-time defending champions.

‘Like A God’

Ronaldo’s heroics overshadowed Swedish star Ibrahimovic’s return for Milan as he came off the bench in the 55th minute against Sampdoria.

The 38-year-old had not played since leaving MLS side LA Galaxy in October.

He came on for Poland striker Krzysztof Piatek to deafening applause from the San Siro crowd after rejoining the club last week.

But there was little else to cheer for the hosts who extended their winless run to three games and remain 12th in the table.

“I felt a lot of adrenaline, emotion, it brought me back nine or 10 years,” said Ibrahimovic, who was top scorer in Serie A with Milan in the 2011-12 campaign before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain.

“I wanted to get on the pitch, score a goal and then celebrate like a God in front of the Curva! But it will happen next time.”

The seven-time European champions are 13 points off Champions League qualification, a competition they have not played since the 2013-14 season.

“You can see that the team is lacking confidence and aggression in scoring goals,” said the Swede.

“I will try everything possible to get Milan going again. There is a lack of faith here.”

Five-Star Atalanta

Milan coach Stefano Pioli said the team were still reeling from their 5-0 defeat by Atalanta last time out.

“The disastrous defeat in Bergamo has remained within us,” said Pioli. “It is a shame not to have won. Ibra’s impact was absolutely positive.

“He immediately gave support, but the team is not yet used to his presence, we could look to him more.

“His physical prowess gives us some more solutions, but we lacked quality from everyone.”

Atalanta continued their fine form, closing to within a point of fourth-placed Roma, who lost 2-0 to Torino on Sunday, with another 5-0 rout, this time of seventh-placed Parma.

Atalanta were already three goals up before the break thanks to Papu Gomez, Remo Freuler and Robin Gosens, with Josip Ilicic adding a second-half double.

New Fiorentina coach Giuseppe Iachini had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Bologna in his first game after taking over from Vincenzo Montella.

The Tuscany side had led for most of the game after Marco Benassi volleyed in on 27 minutes but Riccardo Orsolini grabbed a point for Bologna deep into injury time.

Udinese secured back-to-back wins for the first time this season thanks to a late Rodrigo De Paul winner at Lecce.

AFP

Full List Of 2019 Ballon D’Or Winners

Former Ivorian forward Didier Drogba (L) and French English tv host Sandy Heribert host the Ballon d’Or France Football 2019 ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on December 2, 2019.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

The winners and other top finishers in the four trophies awarded at the 2019 Ballon d’Or ceremony on Monday in Paris:

Men’s Ballon d’Or

  1. Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona)
  2. Virgil van Dijk (NED/Liverpool)
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Juventus)
  4. Sadio Mane (SEN/Liverpool)
  5. Mohamed Salah (EGY/Liverpool)
  6. Kylian Mbappe (FRA/PSG)
  7. Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool)
  8. Robert Lewandowski (POL/Bayern Munich)
  9. Bernardo Silva (POR/Manchester City)
  10. Riyad Mahrez (ALG/Manchester City)

Women’s Ballon d’Or

  1. Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC)
  2. Lucy Bronze (ENG/Lyon)
  3. Alex Morgan (USA/Orlando Pride)
  4. Ada Hegerberg (NOR/Lyon)
  5. Viviane Miedema (NED/Arsenal)
  6. Wendie Renard (FRA/Lyon)
  7. Sam Kerr (AUS/Chicago Red Stars)
  8. Rose Lavelle (USA/Washington Spirit)
  9. Ellen White (ENG/Manchester City)
  10. Dzsenifer Marozsan (GER/Lyon)

READ ALSO: De Ligt Wins Young Player Gong At Ballon D’or Awards

Kopa Trophy

(Best player under 21 on December 31)

  1. Matthijs de Ligt (NED/Ajax Amsterdam then Juventus)
  2. Jadon Sancho (ENG/Borussia Dortmund)
  3. Joao Felix (POR/Benfica then Atletico Madrid)

Yashin Trophy

(Best goalkeeper, presented for the first time)

  1. Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool)
  2. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GER/FC Barcelona)
  3. Ederson (BRA/Manchester City)

AFP

Ronaldo Leaves Stadium Before Final Whistle After Being Substituted

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) goes directly to the changing rooms after being substituted during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs AC Milan on November 10, 2019 at the Juventus Allianz stadium in Turin. Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

 

Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly left the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle of Juventus’ 1-0 Serie A win over AC Milan on Sunday after being substituted for the second match in a week.

Paulo Dybala replaced Ronaldo on 55 minutes with the Argentina striker going on to score the winning goal 22 minutes later to keep Juventus top in Serie A ahead of Inter Milan.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo looked glum as he came off and directed some words at coach Maurizio Sarri before heading to the changing rooms and Sky Sport Italia reported that the 34-year-old had left the stadium three minutes before the match finished.

However Sarri said he did not know whether Ronaldo had left the stadium early.

READ ALSO: Dybala keeps Juventus At Serie A Summit, Lazio And Cagliari Into Top Four

“Disrespectful to his teammates? Like I said, I don’t know,” Sarri said. “If it’s true that he left before the end it is a problem to be resolved with his teammates.”

“I have no problem with Cristiano, he should be thanked because he made himself available despite not being in the best condition,” said Sarri.

“In the last month he has had discomfort in his knee and this is a little problem for him.”

Ronaldo had reacted furiously after been substituted in his team’s 2-1 win against Lokomotiv Moscow midweek which saw Juventus advance to the Champions League last 16.

“The important thing is that he made himself available. If he gets angry when he comes out this is part of the game,” continued the Juventus coach.

“It’s only natural a player is going to be irritated about leaving the pitch, especially when he worked so hard to be there.

“All players who are trying to give their best will have at least five minutes of being annoyed when they are substituted, but a coach would in general be much more worried if he didn’t seem upset.”

Van Dijk Battle Ronaldo, Messi For FIFA Award

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk poses with his trophies of Best Men’s player in Europe of the Year and Best Defender at the end of the UEFA Champions League football group stage draw ceremony in Monaco on August 29, 2019. Valery HACHE / AFP

 

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk is on the shortlist to add FIFA’s best player award to his UEFA Men’s Player of the Year honour.

The Dutch international denied Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the European title last week and the same trio are in the running for the FIFA accolade to be announced in Milan on September 23.

Van Dijk starred in Liverpool’s triumphant Champions League campaign.

READ ALSO: Van Dijk Wins UEFA Men’s Player Of The Year Award

England full-back Lucy Bronze won UEFA’s women’s award and is on FIFA’s shortlist with the United States’ World Cup-winning duo Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is up against Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham for best men’s coach.

Phil Neville, who led England’s women to a World Cup semi-final, is up for the women’s coach award with the USA’s Jill Ellis and Sarina Wiegman who guided European champions the Netherlands to the World Cup final.

FIFA Best shortlists

Men’s player:

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal), Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherlands)

Women’s player:

Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/USA), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA)

Men’s coach:

Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

Women’s coach:

Jill Ellis (USA), Phil Neville (England), Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands)

Women’s goalkeeper:

Christiane Endler (Paris St-Germain/Chile), Hedvig Lindahl (Wolfsburg/Sweden), Sari van Veenendaal (Atletico Madrid/Netherlands)

Men’s goalkeeper:

Alisson (Liverpool/Brazil), Ederson (Manchester City/Brazil), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona/Germany)

Puskas award (for best goal):

Lionel Messi (Barcelona v Real Betis), Juan Quintero (River Plate v Racing Club), Daniel Zsori (Debrecen v Ferencvaros)

AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo Will Not Face Rape Charges In Nevada

Ronaldo, Zapata Lock Horns As Juventus Tackle Atalanta In Coppa Italia

 

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo will not face any charges over an alleged rape in the US state of Nevada a decade ago, prosecutors said on Monday.

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office said it had declined to prosecute the Portuguese star because it “cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that a sexual assault occurred.

Kathryn Mayorga, a former model, has claimed that Ronaldo raped her in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star reached a financial settlement with her following the incident but has denied allegations of sexual assault.

The district attorney’s office said it had received a report from Mayorga — who it identified only as “V” — on June 13, 2009, reporting that she had been the victim of a sexual assault.

Police were unable to conduct an investigation at the time because she declined to say who assaulted her or where it occurred, the office said in a statement, but Mayorga contacted police in August of last year to ask that the case be reopened, at which point she named Ronaldo as the alleged assailant.

“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” prosecutors said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”

Ronaldo is widely considered one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game, having won the Champions League title five times — once with Manchester United and four times with Real Madrid.

He also led Portugal to the Euro 2016 title in France.

AFP

Portugal Rely On Ronaldo To Get Better Of Van Dijk

Ronaldo, Zapata Lock Horns As Juventus Tackle Atalanta In Coppa Italia
Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo
Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Portugal’s meeting with the Netherlands to decide the first ever winners of the Nations League on Sunday sees the unstoppable force of Cristiano Ronaldo face the immovable object in Virgil van Dijk.

Ronaldo sat out the early stages of UEFA’s new competition to save his 34-year-old legs for his first season at Juventus but returned in time to ride to the host nation’s rescue once more in Wednesday’s semi-final against Switzerland.

The Swiss enjoyed the better of the game in Porto, but the five-time world player of the year was lethal in scoring his 53rd career hat-trick with three exquisite finishes.

“It’s the preparation of my work ethic. I still feel good despite being 34 years of age,” Ronaldo told UEFA.com.

“The most important thing is your head, to feel motivated and happy, and to follow my path as a player because I think I still have a lot to give.”

Portugal’s run to the last four without their all-time record top goalscorer showed why hopes are high the European champions will remain a force even when Ronaldo does eventually depart the international scene.

READ ALSO: Mesut Ozil Gets Married With Turkish President As Best Man

The talent of Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Ruben Neven and Bruno Fernandes among others promises much, but Ronaldo remains Portugal’s X-factor.

“We know sometimes it is impossible to have good defending against Cristiano Ronaldo,” said the Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman.

“I think the best that we can do is keeping the ball, to have good ball possession because when we have the ball he can do nothing in attack.”

– Van Dijk transformative –
However, Koeman is blessed with the man most capable of keeping Ronaldo quiet in world football at the moment in Van Dijk.

The world’s most expensive defender has more than justified his 75 million ($95 million) price tag since swapping Southampton for Liverpool 18 months ago.

His transformative effect has brought back the glory days at Anfield, capped by winning the Champions League last weekend.

And now Van Dijk is also leading his country back to where they belong as a European powerhouse after failing to even qualify for the last two major tournaments.

Koeman boasted about having the best central defensive partnership in Europe even before the tournament with Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt lining up alongside Van Dijk.

Yet, while the 19-year-old may well succeed his skipper as the world’s most expensive defender in the coming weeks, Holland’s 3-1 semi-final victory over England showed why he is not yet the finished article.

De Ligt’s error in conceding a first half penalty could have cost his side a place in the final.

Van Dijk was first to console his young teammate and that assurance helped De Ligt to atone in perfect fashion as he scored the Dutch’s equaliser before easing past an error-strewn England in extra-time.

Ronaldo may be keen for revenge against De Ligt as he also scored the winner when Ajax shocked Juventus in the Champions League quarter-finals this season.

Despite the Italian champions’ elimination, Ronaldo scored his side’s two goals in that tie.

But he is yet to net when faced with the more imposing and composed figure of Van Dijk.

In their only two previous meetings, Real Madrid beat Liverpool in last season’s Champions League final thanks to two calamitous goalkeeping errors from Loris Karius and a wonder goal from Gareth Bale in what proved to be Ronaldo’s last ever game for the Spanish giants.

The last time the two nations met, it was Van Dijk who was on target in a 3-0 friendly win for the Netherlands last March.

A five-time Ballon d’Or and Champions League winner, who has also won league titles in England, Spain and Italy, there is little left for Ronaldo to prove.

Yet, the chance to win an international tournament on home soil and avenge the pain of defeat in the Euro 2004 final as hosts will not come round again.

Fifteen years on, Portugal’s hopes still rely Ronaldo rising to the challenge of overcoming the world’s best defender.

Ronaldo Opens Hair Transplant Clinic To Thank Fans Who Love Him

Champions League: Ronaldo Returns For Juventus Against Ajax

 

Cristiano Ronaldo said Friday his decision to open a hair transplant clinic in Madrid was his way of thanking “the people who love me” after spending the best part of a decade at Real Madrid.

The 34-year-old Portuguese star’s hair implant centre in the Spanish capital opened its doors in March even though he has been a Juventus player since last year.

“The Spanish people treated me well, I wanted to thank them by giving them work,” Ronaldo told El Pais newspaper.

“I know that the people love me, they know that I gave a lot to the club (Real) and that they also gave me a lot.”

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Ronaldo, who won two La Liga and four European Champions League titles with Real, said that he hasn’t ruled out becoming a coach when his playing days are over but still has his critics to defy.

“I see football as a mission: to be on the field, to win, to improve, I feel extra pressure, people always judge, they say it’s over, that I’m 33, 34 or 35, and I should stop,” added the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

AFP