Messi Vs Ronaldo In Champions League Group stage, Man Utd To Face PSG

(COMBO) This combination created on October 1, 2020, shows file pictures of Barcelona's Argentine forward Lionel Messi (L) Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Miguel MEDINA, Josep LAGO / AFP
(COMBO) This combination created on October 1, 2020, shows file pictures of Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi (L) Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Miguel MEDINA, Josep LAGO / AFP

 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will meet in a mouthwatering clash in this season’s Champions League after Barcelona and Juventus were placed in the same group in Thursday’s draw.

Messi and Ronaldo will resume the rivalry they developed when the Portuguese superstar was at Real Madrid. Between them, they have won 11 of the last 12 Ballons d’Or.

The two heavyweights were drawn in Group G along with Dynamo Kiev of Ukraine and Ferencvaros, the Hungarian club returning to the group stage for the first time in quarter of a century.

Meanwhile, beaten 2020 finalists Paris Saint-Germain will have a chance for revenge against Manchester United, who ousted the French club in the last 16 two seasons ago.

READ ALSO: Lewandowski Named UEFA Men’s Player Of The Year

PSG will also come up against RB Leipzig in Group H. The sides met in last season’s semi-finals in Lisbon in August, with Paris winning 3-0 before losing to Bayern Munich in their first-ever final appearance.

Completing the group is Istanbul Basaksehir, who are appearing in the tournament proper for the first time.

English Premier League champions Liverpool, who won the Champions League in 2019, will face Ajax as well as Atalanta and Midtjylland of Denmark in Group D.

Holders Bayern will take on Atletico Madrid and will also have a short trip across the border to Austria to take on Salzburg in Group A. Lokomotiv Moscow are other team in the section.

Other notable match-ups will see 13-time European champions Real Madrid meet Inter Milan in Group B and Chelsea come up against debutants Rennes as well as Europa League winners Sevilla in Group E.

Chelsea signed goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes last week.

The group stage starts on October 20, and all six rounds of games will be crammed into eight weeks in a schedule that is even more packed than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This season’s final is scheduled to be staged in Istanbul, which was initially the host for last season’s final before UEFA was forced into a change of plans because of the health crisis.

It remains to be seen whether spectators will be able to attend matches in the group stage.

‘100 Is Not Enough’: Record-Breaking Ronaldo Vows To Score More For Portugal

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) shoots past Sweden's defender Filip Helander (C) and Sweden's defender Pontus Jansson during the UEFA Nations League football match between Sweden and Portugal on September 8, 2020 in Solna, Sweden. Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) shoots past Sweden’s defender Filip Helander (C) and Sweden’s defender Pontus Jansson during the UEFA Nations League football match between Sweden and Portugal on September 8, 2020, in Solna, Sweden. Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

 

Multiple Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo wants to score more goals for the national team after he crossed the 100-goal mark for Portugal in a 2-0 win over Sweden, Tuesday.

The former Manchester United forward who is overjoyed on reaching the milestone, took to his social media handle to describe it as a “historic goal” for A Seleção.

READ ALSO: De Bruyne Wins PFA Player Of The Year

“Huge pride in this historical goal for our national team!” he wrote on Instagram on Tuesday evening. “When they tell me I can reach 100, I say it’s not enough…101 goals for Portugal.”

 

 

Record Chasing Brace

The 35-year-old Juventus attacker curled in a free-kick from 25 yards over the wall and into the far left corner beyond Sweden’s stranded goalkeeper Robin Olsen for a memorable milestone in his trophy-laden career.

The bonus second goal, and his 101st, came in the 72nd minute, with the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player cutting back inside the Swedish defence and producing a deft finish into the far corner from 20 yards.

After making his first senior international appearance as an 18-year-old in 2003, Ronaldo notched up his first goal for Portugal in a 2-1 defeat by eventual winners Greece at Euro 2004.

Ronaldo, capped 165 times by Portugal, is second only to Iran’s Ali Daei, on 109, in the list of top men’s international goal scorers.

Incredibly for Ronaldo, just 17 of his 100 goals have come in friendly matches, and his nine hat-tricks all came in FIFA or UEFA tournaments or qualifying games.

Portugal are leading Group 3 in League A, with the Sweden victory and massive 4-1 win over Croatia on Friday, giving them six points in two games played so far.

 

Chasing A Century, Ronaldo Hints At Return Against Sweden

Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his team’s victory at the end of the UEFA Nations League final football match between Portugal and The Netherlands at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on June 9, 2019. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

 

Portuguese media and fans were on Monday anticipating Cristiano Ronaldo’s 100th international goal after the attacker hinted on social media that he was fit to return to face Sweden.

Ronaldo missed the opening game of his country’s Nations League defence against Croatia with a toe infection, but posted “happy to be back” on Instragram on Sunday, along with photos showing him training with the squad for the first time since last Tuesday.

Portugal play Sweden on Tuesday in Solna, the scene of a memorable Ronaldo display in the second leg of a World Cup qualifying playoff in 2013.

Ronaldo had scored the only goal in the first leg, and then exchanged goals with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the second. Ronaldo hit a hat-trick between the 50th and 79th minute while the Swedish star hit two in four minutes in the middle of the outburst. Portugal won the match and the playoff.

The 35-year-old Juventus star has now scored 99 international goals and is chasing the men’s record of 109 by Ali Daei of Iran.

Yet while Portuguese media were on Monday excited by the prospect, the emphatic 4-1 win over Croatia led some to suggest Portugal could free itself from its “Ronaldo-dependance”.

“Never has Portugal had so many quality attacking players,” wrote Manuel Queiroz in sports daily O Jogo, singling out Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United, Bernardo Silva of Manchester City and Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid. He added that the country has “a great deck of cards even without the fourth ace.”

Other publications praised Manchester City right back Joao Cancelo, who opened the scoring with a curling left-foot shot and others mentioned Ronaldo’s replacement Diogo Jota of Wolves.

AFP

Ronaldo Misses Second Training With Portugal After Foot Infection

File photo: Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo in action during the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Ukraine and Portugal at the NSK Olimpiyskyi stadium in Kyiv on October 14, 2019. Genya SAVILOV / AFP

 

 

Cristiano Ronaldo missed a second training session in a row with the Portugal squad on Thursday due to a foot problem ahead of Nations League matches against Croatia and Sweden.

“The national team captain… has an infection in his right foot and is undergoing treatment with antibiotics,” the Portuguese FA said in a statement.

Ronaldo, 35, was restricted to a gym session on Wednesday.

Lille midfielder Renato Sanches has been ruled out of his country’s first two Nations League games with an undisclosed injury.

European champions Portugal won the inaugural Nations League last year, beating the Netherlands 1-0 in the final in Porto.

They begin the new campaign at home to Croatia on Saturday before travelling to Sweden three days later.

AFP

Ronaldo Is First, Fastest Player To Score 50 Goals In Spain, Italy, England

A file photo of Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo.
A file photo of Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo is eyeing more records as Juventus head for Udinese on Thursday with a ninth consecutive Serie A title within their grasp.

Ronaldo scored a double on Monday against Lazio to bring his tally to 51 Serie A goals since arriving in Turin in July 2018.

The 35-year-old not only became the first player to achieve a half century of goals in Italy, Spain and England, but was also the fastest, doing so in 61 league games.

Last year the five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored 21 goals in his first season in Italy, but thanks to his brace against Lazio he brought his tally to 30 this term, with four games remaining.

Another goal would see him match former Italy World Cup winner Felice Borel, who was the last player to score 31 goals for Juventus in the 1933-34 season.

For Ronaldo the title of top scorer — ‘Capocannoniere’ — is up for grabs, as he is currently level on 30 with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile.

And he could even overtake Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, the top scorer in Europe with 34 goals in the Bundesliga this season.

 

File photo: Juventus’ Italian coach Maurizio Sarri looks on during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) round of 16 football match Juventus vs Udinese on January 15, 2020 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Isabella BONOTTO / AFP

 

There is also the record of Argentine teammate Gonzalo Higuain, who was Serie A top scorer under Sarri at Napoli in the 2015–16 season with 36 goals.

“Cristiano is unpredictable,” said Sarri. “If he puts his mind to something, he’s very determined.

“Not only physically, but, above all, mentally: he is a champion with his feet, but also with his head.”

– ‘Give your all’ –

 

“Very important victory! We’re almost there guys! Let’s go,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram after the Lazio game.

Juventus can seal the title with a win over 16th-placed Udinese, but it depends on Inter Milan, who are eight points behind the champions, losing to Fiorentina at the San Siro on Wednesday.

Otherwise they could win their 36th Scudetto on Sunday, at home against Sampdoria, giving Sarri, 61, his first league title.

It would allow them to start preparing for the Champions League, and overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit against French club Lyon in the last 16 next month.

“Juventus are still the best side in the league,” said Inter boss Antonio Conte, who coached the Turin side to the first three titles in their current run of league triumphs.

“They’re set to win their ninth Scudetto in a row. We can learn from them.

“We’ve got to keep trying to improve, to be more involved in the title race, so we can eventually get our hands on the Scudetto.”

 

 

File photo: Inter Milan’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte gives instructions during the UEFA Champions League Group F football match Inter Milan vs Slavia Prague on September 17, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

Inter Milan, who have not won the title since their historic treble in 2010 under Jose Mourinho, are however assured of a Champions League place next season.

“It’s great that we’ve achieved this goal,” continued Conte, “it was one of the club’s main requests, to improve our results compared to previous seasons and to steady the ship so that things aren’t so hectic at the end of the season.”

Against Franck Ribery’s Fiorentina they were held 1-1 earlier this season, with the 12th-placed Tuscany side coming off back-to-back wins.

“They’ve got a good squad of players, they’re a good team and Giuseppe Iachini is doing a great job as coach,” added Conte.

“They’ll be unfazed by us, but when you’re up against Inter you always have the motivation to give your all.”

Lazio, in fourth, play at Cagliari after their league hopes were dashed at Juventus on Monday. They too are also poised to return to the Champions League after 13 years, as they are 11 points clear of fifth-placed Roma.

AFP

 

Ronaldo Scores As Juventus Thrash Lecce

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo shoots to score a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Lecce played on June 26, 2020 behind closed doors at the Juventus stadium in Turin, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP
Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo shoots to score a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Lecce played on June 26, 2020 behind closed doors at the Juventus stadium in Turin, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Juventus moved seven points clear at the top of Serie A on Friday after hammering struggling Lecce 4-0 in Turin and piling the pressure on title rivals Lazio.

A superb Paulo Dybala strike and Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty just after the hour mark made sure of the result at the Allianz Stadium before two late strikes from Gonzalo Higuain and Matthijs de Ligt completed the rout against a Lecce team who had to play for an hour with 10 men.

The away side meanwhile stay third-from-bottom, level on 25 points with Genoa a place above them and a point behind Sampdoria in 16th.

Juve started the match off the pace and while Adrien Rabiot forced a good save and Ronaldo flashed a powerful shot wide, Lecce comfortably kept the hosts at bay right until Fabio Lucioni got himself sent off.

The 32-year-old got tangled up on the ball under no pressure on the half way line and then clumsily bundled over Rodrigo Bentancur.

Maurizio Sarri’s team were still below their best but should have been at least a goal up at half-time after Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi both blazed over from point-blank range just before the break.

Juve pressed ahead after the restart, with Leonardo Bonucci’s header forcing a smart stop from Lecce keeper Gabriel and Dybala whipping a curling effort just wide.

Argentine Dybala was not to be denied however, when he picked the ball up on the edge of the area in the 53rd minute and crashed a high shot home to break brave Lecce’s resistance.

Ronaldo then bagged his goal from the spot in the 62nd minute after being tripped by Luca Rossettini.

However the Portuguese will be kicking himself that he didn’t come away from this game with more goals after missing several presentable chances.

By that time Lecce were playing for damage limitation but two quickfire goals made the scoreline a more accurate representation of the balance of play.

Higuain, who had already gone close just seconds after being brought on as a 77th-minute substitute, pounced on Ronaldo’s deflected backheel with seven minutes left before sweeping a fine left-footed finish high over Gabriel.

Dutchman de Ligt then bundled home the fourth two minutes later, stooping low to head in Douglas Costa’s whipped cross from the right to leave Lazio having to win their home clash with Fiorentina on Saturday evening to cut the gap back to four points.

 

AFP

‘Incredible’ Ronaldo Will Rediscover Best Form – Sarri

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Juventus vs AC Milan on June 12, 2020 at the Allianz stadium in Turin, the first to be played in Italy since March 9 and the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus.
File: Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Juventus vs AC Milan on June 12, 2020 at the Allianz stadium in Turin, the first to be played in Italy since March 9 and the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri has told Cristiano Ronaldo not to worry about his slow resumption to the season, insisting on Sunday the Portuguese star will return to being “the most incredible player of all time”.

They will play their first Serie A match in over three months against Bologna on Monday, four days after losing the Italian Cup final to Napoli.

The Serie A leaders failed to score in their two Cup matches since the Italian season resumed following the coronavirus lockdown, with goalless draws against AC Milan in the semi-finals, where Ronaldo missed a penalty, and with Napoli in the final before a 4-2 defeat on penalties.

“I spoke to Cristiano again yesterday. He must not worry about trust,” Sarri said.

“He must not lose confidence, as soon as he regains his brilliance he will return to being the most incredible player of all time.

“At the moment, physically he cannot give the maximum.”

Ronaldo, 35, has scored 25 goals for Juventus in all competitions this season.

He spent the coronavirus lockdown in his native Portugal.

“We must not forget that we have arrived after being inactive for 60 days and the physical brilliance cannot be at the highest levels,” said Sarri.

Ronaldo also failed to find the net in Juventus’ last two matches before the lockdown, having scored in nine straight matches before that.

Juventus have just a one-point advantage over Lazio in the Serie A table, as they target a ninth consecutive Scudetto.

The 61-year-old urged his players to “turn the page” quickly having lost two finals this season, after the Italian Super Cup loss to Lazio in December.

“Losing a trophy is always painful, it hurts, it gives disappointment and bitterness, but this is the situation and we must not beat ourselves up,” said the former Chelsea coach.

“We have to turn the page and think about our next games. We hope to improve quickly in the next 10 days, both in physical and mental condition.”

Sarri, meanwhile, dismissed reports he had a training ground bust-up with Bosnia midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

“The story of my quarrel with him is fake news,” said Sarri.

“Pjanic is one of the guys I talk to the most and, like the whole team in the last two games, he has played well in the opening minutes, dropping a bit during the game.”

 

Ronaldo Returns To Juventus Training After Two Months

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. PHOTO: Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to training with Juventus in Turin on Tuesday after an absence of over two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 35-year-old arrived at the Juventus Training Centre in a Jeep with tinted windows around 09:20 (0720 GMT), leaving three hours later with a smile and thumbs up for waiting photographers.

Ronaldo underwent medical and physical tests before joining up with his teammates for the first time in 72 days for individual training, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Usain Bolt And Partner Welcome Baby Girl

Coach Maurizio Sarri has been conducting training in small groups since Monday, pending the final health protocol to be agreed with the Italian government.

Juventus players got back to individual training on May 4, the day Ronaldo returned to Italy after spending lockdown in his native Portugal.

For the past two weeks, he has been in quarantine in his villa in Turin.

Ronaldo played in Juventus’ last Serie A game before the season was suspended, a 2-0 win over Inter Milan behind closed doors at the Allianz Stadium on March 8.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is the first Juventus foreign player, among those who left Italy during the lockdown, to return to the team’s Continassa training centre.

Italy has been one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 32,000 deaths.

League leaders Juventus are leading Lazio by one point as they target a ninth consecutive ‘Scudetto’.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced on Monday that all its competitions, including Serie A, will remain suspended until June 14.

Serie A had hoped to return on June 13 but the FIGC has pushed back the date in line with a government decree that all sports competitions be suspended until next month.

The FIGC said the choice was made “pending any further… decision by the authorities”, suggesting the possibility of a restart on June 13 might still exist.

But Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday he needed “more guarantees” before the green light could finally be given for football to resume.

A meeting is planned in the near future between Conte and Italian football bosses.

The government’s technical and scientific committee will decide in the coming days if it accepts the new health protocols proposed for a return to group training and competition.

AFP

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