Fri, Sep 21, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Juventus win after Ronaldo red-carded

CLOSE CALL?Coach Massimiliano Allegri bemoaned the lack of VAR in UEFA tournaments, saying the system could have helped the referee make the ‘right decision’

AFP, PARIS

Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo, right, reacts after receiving a red card in their UEFA Champions League match against Valencia at the Estadio de Mestalla in Valencia, Spain, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Juventus on Wednesday launched their UEFA Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory at Valencia in a match overshadowed by a controversial red card for Cristiano Ronaldo, while tournament favorites Manchester City were stunned at home by Olympique Lyonnais.

Ronaldo’s Champions League debut for Juventus lasted less than half an hour, as the Portuguese star was red-carded after a collision with Valencia defender Jeison Murillo.

After tangling with Ronaldo, Colombian Murillo tumbled to the ground holding his face, and referee Felix Brych consulted with the assistant official beside the goal before giving the competition’s all-time record goalscorer his marching orders.

“The only thing I can say is that VAR [video assistant referee] could have helped the referee make the right decision,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said, lamenting the lack of the video technology in UEFA tournaments. “It is very disappointing, we almost lost because of that and we will be without Ronaldo for the next [match].”

However, Juventus, who had totally dominated until Ronaldo’s dismissal, were awarded two penalties within six minutes either side of halftime, and Miralem Pjanic confidently dispatched them both.

The Italian champions defended well thereafter to keep the hosts at arm’s length, although Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny did save a Daniel Parejo spot-kick in the final minute of injury-time.

Manchester United topped the early Group H table after continuing their recent upturn in form by brushing aside Young Boys 3-0 in Bern to notch a third straight win in all competitions.

Jose Mourinho’s men were inspired by Paul Pogba on the artificial pitch, as the French FIFA World Cup winner drilled home a brilliant opener before converting a penalty on the stroke of halftime and set up Anthony Martial for the third.

However, English champions Manchester City struggled, with Pep Guardiola watching from the stands after a touchline ban, and were beaten 2-1 by French side Lyon at the Etihad Stadium after an error-strewn display.

City, the bookmakers’ favorites for the title this term, suffered a nightmare first half against an enterprising Lyon, with Maxwel Cornet sweeping in after a mistake by Fabian Delph and Nabil Fekir drilling home before halftime.

The introduction of Sergio Aguero as a substitute revitalized City after the break, and Bernardo Silva turned in Leroy Sane’s cutback with 23 minutes still to play.

However, Lyon, who have won only two of their first five Ligue 1 matches this term, held on to clinch a famous victory and ease the pressure on coach Bruno Genesio.

“We saw two very different halves. We conceded many counterattacks and at this level you get punished,” said City assistant coach Mikel Arteta, who was filling in for Guardiola. “If you give cheap goals away it is difficult.”

In the other Group F game earlier on Wednesday, Brazilian youngster Maycon came off the bench to rescue Shakhtar Donetsk in a 2-2 draw against group-stage debutants TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Holders Real Madrid showed that they are still serious contenders on the biggest stage, despite seeing Ronaldo leave for Juventus in the close-season, as Julen Lopetegui’s men saw off AS Roma 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Isco curled home a sumptuous 45th-minute free-kick to give the 13-time champions the lead, before Gareth Bale made it three goals in two Champions League matches after his spectacular double in May’s final triumph over Liverpool.

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