Ronaldo leads Juventus to Italian super cup title

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Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Jan 17 (IANS) Cristiano Ronaldo scored the lone goal in Juventus’ 1-0 victory over AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana, a win that gives the Portuguese superstar his first title with the Bianconeri.

Wednesday’s match at King Abdullah Sports City between seven-time defending Serie A champion Juve and 2017-2018 Coppa Italia runner-up Milan was mostly controlled by the Turin club, who nearly got on the board in the opening minutes on a left-footed blast by Douglas Costa and a cross-shot by Joao Cancelo (just back from injury) that grazed the far post, reports Efe news.

AC Milan tried unsuccessfully to get their attack going in the first half and dodged a bullet shortly before the intermission when an apparent goal by Blaise Matuidi was disallowed for offside and Ronaldo nearly scored off a cross by Costa.

The Rossoneri finally started pushing back against Juve at the start of the second half and had their best scoring chance of the contest in the 47th minute on a left-footed rocket from the area by Patrick Cutrone that ricocheted off the crossbar.

It took Juve a few minutes to get the momentum back, a stretch in which their defenders needed to stymie some potentially dangerous Milan counter-attacks.

But just after the one-hour mark Ronaldo once again emerged as the key difference maker when he headed home a perfectly placed pass into the area by Miralem Pjanic.

The former Real Madrid talisman’s goal in the 61st minute, his 16th of the season across all competitions, forced Milan to seek more offence and bring on Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain for Samu Castillejo 10 minutes later.

But Higuain, who is on loan from Juventus and could be headed soon for English Premier League (EPL) club Chelsea, was unable to make an impact against his parent team and did not have a single scoring opportunity during his 20 minutes of action.

Milan’s chances of mounting a comeback seemed slight after Franck Kessie was shown a direct red card for a hard foul on Emre Can, although despite playing with just 10 men the Coppa Italia runners-up came close to winning a late penalty.

The video assistant referee (VAR) system, however, reviewed the play and ruled that Can did not commit a foul in the area on Tiemoue Bakayoko.

With their victory, Juve now have a record eight Supercoppa Italiana titles.

–IANS

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