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.
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
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal), Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherlands)
Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/USA), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA)
Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)
Jill Ellis (USA), Phil Neville (England), Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands)
Christiane Endler (Paris St-Germain/Chile), Hedvig Lindahl (Wolfsburg/Sweden), Sari van Veenendaal (Atletico Madrid/Netherlands)
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)
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.
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.
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, 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.
Cristiano Ronaldo headed in a late equalizer to spoil Torino’s dream of a first win at city rivals Juventus in nearly a quarter of a century and frustrate their bid to move into the Champions League places.
Sasa Lukic had fired Torino ahead after 17 minutes in a match brought forward a day to avoid clashing with Saturday’s 70th anniversary of the air disaster that wiped out the all-conquering ‘Grande Torino’ team of the 1940s.
But Ronaldo headed in for 1-1 after 84 minutes to leave Torino in sixth place, two points off the Champions League berths with three games left to play.
Juventus have already sealed the Serie A title for the eighth season in a row, but Torino still have all to play for as they target a first-ever qualification for elite European competition.
Japan defender Gen Shoji has already endured a bruising experience against one global superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo but hopes that experience will work in his favour when he confronts another in the shape of French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe on Sunday.
Shoji gets his chance to shut out Mbappe, one of football’s hottest properties, when his Toulouse team take on mighty Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1.
The 26-year-old, who arrived in France in the winter transfer window, came off worse when Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick in a 4-2 win for Real Madrid over Kashima Antlers at the 2016 World Club Cup.
“With my Japanese club, we tried to stop Ronaldo collectively. In France, when we defend, I feel as if the individual duel is more important so I will have to adapt the way I do things against Mbappe and the others,” said Shoji.
“To compare Ronaldo and Mbappe, I will have to have played both of them. I should have a better idea after the game but it will be complicated.”
Shoji, a native of Kobe, left Kashima Antlers — his only previous club — after 11 years and has helped Toulouse to a respectable mid-table place in Ligue 1.
“I wanted to have new experiences,” said Japanese international Shoji who admitted he has had to quickly adapt to a vastly different culture in France.
“You have to get out of your shyness. In Japan, if you are a little reserved someone will come to you; here, if you don’t make the effort, no one will come to you.”
To help him integrate in La Ville Rose (The Pink City), Toulouse have drafted in Japanese compatriot Toru Ota, who has played in the women’s teams at Lyon and PSG.
She interprets for Shoji in the dressing room and translates tactical tips being passed on to the pitch from the bench. A French teacher is also in the process of being hired.
Shoji opted against joining Toulouse after the World Cup last summer because he wanted to help Kashima win the Asian Champions League for the first time.
With that ambition achieved in November, Shoji was free to move to France in a three-million-euro deal.
“He learns very quickly. He has been a good purchase,” said Toulouse coach Alain Casanova.
For his part, Shoji believes that from a technical perspective “the Japanese championship is perhaps better” but “Ligue 1 is superior when you add in the speed and physicality”.
“I was very surprised by the quality of French football,” added the 15-time capped international who was left heartbroken by Japan’s World Cup elimination in a 3-2 last-16 loss to Belgium in Russia last summer after they had led 2-0.
“But you will see and I do not know when, maybe it will be after me, but one day, Japan will go very, very far at the World Cup,” he predicted.
In his brief Ligue 1 career, Shoji has endured some sobering experiences — a 5-0 rout at the hands of Lyon was particularly painful.
“In Japan, with Kashima, we won all the time. I have never thought that I have made a bad choice. I don’t have any experience of a team that has these kind of difficulties. It’s important to have this kind of experience.”
Casanova is confident that Shoji will be a success story in France. To help his new recruit, he has even picked up a smattering of Japanese.
“I have mastered the main words — hello and goodbye!”
Very difficult time to be a Real Madrid fan…. but to have Ronaldo and Zidane leave was a terrible decision. And to have Keylor Navas-who was one of the high performers in the Champs league-sidelined, Fiorentino Perez should be blamed
There’s a reason Zidane walked away and so many big names turned the job down. Real Madrid need an overhaul. They weren’t great last season either, CL aside. It was a thankless task trying to overachieve once again with a squad that lost its spark – and record goalscorer.
We all know you’re desperate for him to go. But Madrid need to replace Ronaldo’s goals & anyone who knows football will tell you that’s not Hazard. Interesting no Arsenal players constantly linked with Madrid!
Ronaldo being the top goal scorer for them the four of five years they won believe has something to do with it. He had always shown up in the UCL Final and rounds beforehand. Lady Luck happens in every sport.
Anthony Martial has the talent to reach Cristiano Ronaldo’s level if he puts his mind to it, according to Manchester United caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Martial had looked set to leave the club in the summer after falling out with Jose Mourinho but battled his way back into the Portuguese manager’s plans.
Last month, with Solskjaer now at the helm at Old Trafford, he signed a deal keeping him at the club until at least 2024.
The France international marked his first start since that contract with an assist and a superb second in the 3-0 win against Fulham, where his fine solo goal led ex-United captain Gary Neville to compare it to a Ronaldo effort at Craven Cottage in 2007.
“He does have similarities, of course,” said Solskjaer, who replaced the sacked Mourinho in December. “If he wants to be at Cristiano’s level, Anthony knows what he has to do. It’s up to him. He has the talent.”
“I am glad he is in my team,” the Norwegian added. “He has contributed to so many chances, so many goals. He is a Manchester United player. He excites the crowd. He excites the manager. He excites his teammates. And he is a great character around the place.”
Martial, 23, who became the most expensive teenager in history when he moved to United from Monaco in 2015 for an initial £36 million ($46 million), has scored 47 goals for the club.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances for United, winning the Premier League three times and the Champions League.
United play Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, bolstered by Neymar’s injury, but Solskjaer said the absence of the Brazilian would be a loss.
“When you play against the best teams, you want to play against the players,” he said. “The crowd want to see the best players. Too bad for Old Trafford.
“I have played a couple of games when we played Real Madrid and (Brazil’s) Ronaldo and (Luis) Figo and all those were coming to Old Trafford. That gives it an extra edge.
“Unfortunately for Neymar he is injured but of course he is a quality player. I think our right-back thinks it is not too bad he will not be here.”
Both Ronaldo and Zapata are in form having scored 15 goals in Serie A so far, and are vying for top scorer.
Ronaldo slotted in the penalty that gave Juventus a hard-fought 2-1 win over Lazio on Sunday.
In Bergamo, Zapata missed a penalty but less than a minute later scored the equaliser as his side came from three goals down to hold Roma 3-3.
It was the 27-year-old Colombian’s 14th goal in the last eight league games.
He also scored in the Coppa Italia last 16 tie against Cagliari.
Ronaldo, 33, has scored in his last eight away games, along with the winner in the Italian Super Cup final and a Champions League goal for a total of 17 for Juventus.
But Juventus looked sluggish for an hour on Sunday with second half substitutes Joao Cancelo and Federico Bernardeschi saving the day in Rome.
“Those who come off the bench are essential,” said Massimiliano Allegri. “I was sad to leave Bernardeschi out initially, but we have a big game coming up against Atalanta.”
Juventus will be without defender Leonardo Bonucci who sprained his ankle at the weekend, but Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira and Mario Mandzukic are all back training.
– AC Milan v Napoli round two –
Napoli travel back to the San Siro on Tuesday for round two after being held to a goalless draw there by AC Milan in the league on Saturday.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side are trailing 11 points behind Juventus in Serie A and the former AC Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss is desperate to win some silverware in his first season.
Brazilian midfielder Allan returns after being dropped from Napoli’s last game in Milan following speculation of a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, with Ancelotti declaring “the matter over” and the player staying in Italy.
AC Milan’s new signing Krzysztof Piatek is in line to make his full debut, having appeared as a substitute at the weekend.
Roma travel to Fiorentina midweek with Inter Milan hosting Lazio on Thursday, after falling 1-0 against Torino.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
AC Milan v Napoli (1945)
Fiorentina v Roma (1715), Atalanta v Juventus (1945)
Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to make his Coppa Italia debut as Juventus open their quest for a fifth consecutive trophy on Saturday with a last 16 clash against Bologna as Italian football returns to the pitch after a chaotic start to the year.
Ronaldo will be looking to pick up where he left off after scoring twice against Sampdoria before the winter break, to lead the Serie A scoring chart with 14 goals. He has also scored once for the Turin giants in the Champions League.
The 33-year-old will now chase his first Italian Cup goal just days after Las Vegas police asked the star to submit a DNA sample as part of their investigation into rape allegations made against him by an American woman which he vehemently denies.
Ronaldo’s strike partner Mario Mandzukic — who has scored nine goals this season — has been sidelined with a thigh problem that could also rule the Croatian World Cup runner-up out of next week’s Italian Super Cup.
The Italian league is still on its winter break but Juventus and AC Milan are warming up for the Super Cup final in Saudi Arabia.
Juventus midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur warned it was important to set the tone for Wednesday’s game in Jeddah where they want to lift their first trophy of the season.
“We’re focused on Bologna but then straight after that we’ll need to think about the match against AC Milan and the Super Cup, which is the first target we need to reach,” said the Uruguayan.
Juventus — the record 13-time Italian Cup winners — last year became the first Italian team to complete the double for four years in a row, beating AC Milan 4-0 in the final.
Former five-time winners AC Milan are away to Sampdoria, who last won the Cup 25 years ago.
Violence involving fans in Milan and Rome over the last two weeks have lead to calls for tougher government measures to deal with football hooliganism.
Inter Milan take on Serie B side Benevento in a closed San Siro, as they serve the first of a two-match stadium closure after racist chanting against Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly on December 26.
There were also violent clashes before the game during which an Inter supporter was killed after being hit by a car.
City rivals Roma and Lazio both host two third division sides at the Stadio Olimpico days after their fans ran amok in the capital.
Roma supporters distributed anti-Semitic leaflets in the north of the city to coincide with Lazio’s 117th anniversary celebrations.
Ten police were injured as the Lazio celebrations turned nasty.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli host Sassuolo on Sunday, with Torino hosting Fiorentina in another tie between two top flight sides.
Italian Cup last-16 fixtures
Saturday (all times GMT)
Lazio v Novara (1400), Sampdoria v AC Milan (1700), Bologna v Juventus (1945)
Torino v Fiorentina (1400), Inter Milan v Benevento (1700), Napoli v Sassuolo (1945)
Cagliari v Atalanta (1630), AS Roma v Virtus Entrella (2000).
Las Vegas police have asked soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to submit a DNA sample as part of their investigation into rape allegations made against him.
The Juventus forward has vehemently denied the accusations — with his lawyer, Peter Christiansen, telling AFP the request was standard procedure.
“Mr Ronaldo has always maintained, as he does today, that what occurred in Las Vegas in 2009 was consensual in nature, so it is not surprising that DNA would be present, nor that the police would make this very standard request as part of their investigation,” he said in a statement.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said it had made an official request to Italian authorities, adding it is “taking the same steps in this case as in any other sexual assault to facilitate the collection of DNA evidence.”
Former model Kathryn Mayorga, 34, of Las Vegas, accused Ronaldo in a complaint filed last year in the state of Nevada.
She claims after meeting him at a Las Vegas nightclub, he raped her at his hotel suite on June 13, 2009 — just before he joined Real Madrid from Manchester United.
Mayorga alleges she was paid $375,000 to keep quiet.
Ronaldo’s lawyers have said that the non-disclosure agreement signed with the former model is “by no means a confession of guilt.”
Mayorga’s attorney has previously said that the model agreed to an out-of-court settlement to keep her name from going public, but was inspired to speak out by the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
Mayorga’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.