Tue, Jan 29, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Ronaldo’s late strike sees ‘worst’ Juve go 11 clear

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus, center, vies for the ball with SS Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, left, in their Serie A match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Sunday.

Photo: AP

Cristiano Ronaldo on Sunday converted a penalty to seal a hard-fought 2-1 win for Juventus against SS Lazio in Rome to pull 11 points clear in Serie A.

Juventus had trailed after an Emre Can own-goal after an hour, before substitute Joao Cancelo pulled the champions level and then earned the penalty which Ronaldo slotted in with two minutes to go.

An eighth straight Serie A title beckons for Massimiliano Allegri’s side who soared clear of second-placed SSC Napoli who were held to a goalless draw at AC Milan on Saturday.

Inter are 19 points behind the leaders after losing 1-0 at Torino earlier on Sunday.

Lazio drop to eighth place — three points off the UEFA Champions League spots — after their second consecutive defeat after losing to Napoli by the same score the previous weekend.

“It must have been the kitman’s fault, giving us 10 shirts of different colors because we couldn’t pass the ball to each other,” Allegri said.

“For 60 minutes it was the worst Juventus of the year,” captain Giorgio Chiellini added. “Paradoxically after the goal disadvantage we found the motivation to win it. We’ve got players who make the difference. [Goalkeeper Wojciech] Szczesny kept us on our feet, we were lethal in the end.”

Can conceded the own-goal before the hour mark when he ducked down and instead deflected the ball into his own net off a corner, but Allegri’s side could count on the depth of their bench with second-half substitutes Cancelo and Federico Bernardeschi proving pivotal.

A solo run by Bernardeschi down the left set up the equalizer which Cancelo fired in off a rebound after Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha had initially cleared a Paulo Dybala shot.

Ronaldo — whose penalty against AC Chievo Verona was saved the previous weekend — finished off to score in his eighth consecutive away match to bring his league tally to 15 goals.

Inter fell at Torino with defender Armando Izzo scoring the only goal, as Roma threw away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 against Atalanta BC.

Roma could have overtaken AC Milan in fourth place, but Colombian forward Duvan Zapata continued his goal-scoring streak to snatch a point.

Roma had been three goals up following an Edin Dzeko brace, with Stephan El Shaarawy adding a third five minutes prior to halftime, before the Romans faded under the driving rain in northern Italy.

“What drives me crazy is the lack of consistency from this team, even during the same match,” Roma coach Eusebio di Francesco said. “It’s absurd to see a team with the same players put in such a different performance from one half to the next. We were fortunate to get a draw.”

Dzeko broke through after just three minutes for his first goal in Serie A since October, adding a second half an hour later, with teenage compatriot Nicolo Zaniolo providing two assists.

Zaniolo set up El Shaarawy to make it 3-0 five minutes before halftime, but Timothy Castagne headed Atalanta back into the game before the interval.

Di Francesco’s men struggled after the break with former Roma defender Rafael Toloi nodding in Atalanta’s second just before the hour mark off a Papu Gomez cross.

Zapata missed a chance for a third 10 minutes later when he sent his penalty-kick over the bar, but a minute later he fired in his 14th goal in the past eight league games.

Atalanta are now seventh, three points off the European places.

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