Cristiano Ronaldo on Wednesday came off the bench to score a late equalizer as 10-man Juventus salvaged a 2-2 draw at Atalanta BC to move nine points clear of SSC Napoli at the top of Serie A.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli missed the chance to cut the gap to the reigning champions after Inter substitute Lautaro Martinez hit a stoppage-time winner in an ugly 1-0 victory at the San Siro marred by racist chants toward Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri decided to rest Ronaldo, as the former Real Madrid man did not start a league game for the first time since moving to Italy, but the 33-year-old was needed to level in the 78th minute after Duvan Zapata’s double had put the hosts in front following Berat Djimsiti’s own-goal.
Ronaldo’s efforts kept Juventus unbeaten in Serie A, ahead of the final game before the winter break against UC Sampdoria tomorrow.
“It’s a shame, because we still wanted to win, but the team did well,” Allegri said.
Everything appeared to be going to plan for Juve when they grabbed the lead in only the second minute, when Atalanta centerback Djimsiti completely miskicked Alex Sandro’s deflected cross into his own net.
However, Zapata threw a wrench in the Juve works with a fantastic individual goal midway through the first half, spinning centerback Leonardo Bonucci with ease before drilling a left-footed strike into the far corner.
Douglas Costa fired wide just after the half-hour mark as the visitors looked to restore their advantage, but the Turin giants were reduced to 10 men eight minutes after halftime when Rodrigo Bentancur was shown a second yellow card for a poor tackle on Timothy Castagne.
Colombian striker Zapata wasted little time in making Bentancur pay, bundling in from almost on the goal-line to put Atalanta ahead and score his ninth league goal of the season.
Allegri sent on Ronaldo with 25 minutes remaining, and less than 60 seconds after Robin Gosens wasted a golden opportunity to seal victory for Atalanta, before the Portuguese star scored from close range.
In Milan, Martinez turned in a bouncing cross in the 91st minute as Inter closed to within five points of Napoli, who finished with nine men after Kalidou Koulibaly and Lorenzo Insigne were both sent off late on.
Koulibaly was dismissed with 10 minutes left after two yellow cards in quick succession — the second for sarcastically applauding the referee. The Napoli centerback had repeatedly been the target of monkey noises made by home fans throughout the match.
“We asked three times for the match to be suspended and there were three announcements, but the match continued,” Ancelotti told Sky. “The player was irritable, he wasn’t in the best state of mind. Usually he’s a very calm and professional player, but there were these noises throughout the game.”
“It looks like an excuse, but the player was agitated and irritable. It’s not good, not for us, nor for Italian football,” he added.
Inter’s winning goal came just after goalkeeper Samir Handanovic pulled off a terrific double save and a follow-up shot by Piotr Zielinski was cleared off the line by Kwadwo Asamoah.
AC Milan’s push for a top-four finish took a hit as Gennaro Gattuso’s side were held to an uneventful 0-0 draw at struggling Frosinone.
The seven-time European champions have failed to score in four consecutive league games for the first time since 1984, managing three goalless stalemates in the process.
“To reach our objective of [UEFA] Champions League qualification, we can’t play the way we did in the first half,” Gattuso told DAZN.
“I’m the captain of this ship, so it’s only right that I take all the responsibility. It’s important for me to understand how to make my players play their best, because right now they’re performing below their ability,” he said.
Milan slipped to sixth, behind fourth-placed SS Lazio by three points in the race for Champions League qualification.
Capital club Lazio won 2-0 at Bologna, while Sampdoria leapfrogged Milan into fifth by seeing off rock-bottom AC Chievo Verona 2-0.
AS Roma were a point behind Milan in seventh after easing to a 3-1 win over US Sassuolo as teenager Nicolo Zaniolo notched his first Serie A goal, while Torino climbed to eighth courtesy of a 3-0 defeat of Empoli.
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being
FULL GAME: Henry Sosa pitched nine innings for the Guardians, allowing only six hits all night, while the Monkeys’ offense were also shut out of their game Outfielder Lin An-ko carried a big bat this week — before his Uni-President Lions ran into the Fubon Guardians last night — blasting four home runs, including a grand slam as his side won four games in a row and moved into second on the CPBL table. However, the Lions could not sustain their super-charged offense for the whole week, as they were shut out 4-0 by the Guardians in New Taipei City. Fubon’s rookie catcher, Jhang Jin-de, took a page from Lin’s playbook. With two men on, Jhang smacked a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Henry Sosa of the Dominican Republic