BSP-27 Ronaldo off the mark as Juventus maintain 100% record
Ronaldo off the mark as Juventus maintain 100% record
MILAN, Sept 16, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first competitive goals for Juventus on Sunday, with a second-half double by the Portuguese star giving the Italian champions a 2-1 Serie A win over Sassuolo to make it four victories from as many games.
The 33-year-old tapped in from barely a yard out after a goalmouth scramble on 50 minutes, and added a second 15 minutes later following a counter-attack orchestrated by Emre Can as the defending seven-time champions moved three points clear of Napoli.
“I’m happy. I worked hard and I knew that the goals would come,” said Ronaldo.
“I thank my teammates who really helped me and allowed me to adapt to Italian football.”
Ronaldo showed his frustration, however, kicking the post as he missed two more chances.
“This is football. The important thing is that the team wins. I was a little tense with all the talk after my move from Real Madrid and not scoring, so there were a lot of expectations, but I thank my teammates for supporting me throughout.”
Senegalese striker Khouma Babacar pulled a goal back for Sassuolo in injury-time as the side from Modena fell to their first defeat of the season.
Juventus are the only unbeaten side this term after Napoli inflicted a first loss on Fiorentina on Saturday with a 1-0 win ahead of next week’s Champions League trip to Red Star Belgrade.
Sassuolo are now third with seven points.
Juventus winger Douglas Costa was sent off late on after being caught on camera spitting at Sassuolo’s Federico Di Francesco, and could face a lengthy ban.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo was the star signing of the summer transfer period, arriving amid great pomp and ceremony following a 100-million-euro ($117 million) deal from Real Madrid.
Bolstered by five-time winner Ronaldo, Juventus begin their quest for a first Champions League title since 1996 at Valencia on Wednesday.
The Turin giants also won the European title in 1985, but finished runners-up twice in 2015 and 2017 under current coach Allegri.
“The Champions League is my favourite tournament,” said Ronaldo.
“It’s a very difficult group, we know that we can do well and Juve must focus on being the best.”
– Roma confidence dented –
Earlier, Roma threw away a two-goal lead as bottom club Chievo snatched a 2-2 draw at the Stadio Olimpico to dent morale before a daunting midweek trip to Champions League holders Real Madrid.
Stephan El Shaarawy and Bryan Cristante put Roma, who lost to AC Milan before the international break, firmly in command at half-time.
But Chievo, beaten 6-1 by Fiorentina last time out and on minus points after being deducted three points by the Italian football federation for false accounting, battled back in the second half.
Valter Birsa pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute, with Polish striker Mariusz Stepinski sealing a point for the club from Verona seven minutes from time.
“This was a game we had under control, we should have closed it down. This can’t happen against Real,” said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
“In games like this you have to score four goals. This didn’t happen, and it kept Chievo alive.”
The Roma coach added: “We’ll be going out to challenge Real Madrid on Wednesday. We mustn’t lose our heads, even if these results destabilise us.”
Roma are now eighth with five points from four games — already seven points behind Juventus.
Inter Milan’s woes were compounded with a shock 1-0 home defeat by Parma on Saturday ahead of their European opener against Tottenham at the San Siro.