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Coppa Italia: Cristiano Ronaldo converts late penalty to force a draw with Rossoneri

Valentine Chinyem



Mixed reaction still trailing the Coppa Italia semi final first leg match between AC Milan and visiting side Juventus.

With both teams suffering a lose in their last games respectively, it is normal for them to go into this one desperate to return to winning ways.

AC Milan lost to Inter Milan 4-2 in a derby which saw them throwing away a 2-goal lead at the San Siro, while, Juventus on the other hand scored early in the game between them and Hellas Verona through a goal from Ronaldo, only to succumb to two unreplied goals from Verona.

The Rossoneri line-up of Donnarumma, Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessie; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Rebic and Ibrahimovic, showed a promising side who want to make amends from their previous game.

Juve featured 42-year old veteran Buffon at the goal post; De Sciglio, De Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Matuidi, Pjanic, Dybala, Cuadrado and Ronaldo. However, surprisingly, Aaron Ramsey made the starting line-up despite speculation he may be on his way out of the team this coming summer.

It was a fight to finish as Ibrahimovic finally faced Ronaldo in the much talked about match, which saw both players making little or no impact until Cristiano’s 90′ min goal.

38-year-old Ibrahimovic, who joined Milan for the second time last month, after spending two seasons plying his trade with MLS side, LA Galaxy, almost broke the deadlock few minutes before Ante Rebic’s 61 minutes volley gave the host lead.

Buffon was busy all through, as the Milan had the upper hand for most part of the game.

The final 18 minutes however, saw Stefano Pioli’s side reduced to 10 men following Theo Hernandez rash tackle on Paulo Dybala, for which he was given a second yellow card.

Ibrahimovic also picked up a yellow in the game for throwing his arm into the face of Juve center back Matthijs de Ligt. The yellow prevents him for playing in the second leg in March, after securing another yellow in the knockout stage of the competition.

The match went on with Milan pummeling Juvetus with shots without rest They were however, going to rue their luck in the closing stages of the match when Calabria was harshly punished for handball from Ronaldo’s acrobatic volley, which saw the striker securing a draw from a decisive penalty kick.

While speaking to Rai Sport, Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri was quoted as saying that he is not worried about the team not playing to its optimum at the moment, saying it is a normal phase in football

He said: ”I am not worried, as the only real worries in life are your health. It seems a normal phase to be going through, it’s unthinkable for a team to be a continual ascent. This is a sport, so much depends on the physical and psychological conditions of so many players.

”Our growth has stalled a little in the last three weeks, we concede avoidable goals. Having said that, we’ve conceded only two more than the best defence in Serie A, so it’s not that much of an issue.

He added that, ”Miralem Pjanic had a good game, so did Ramsey for some time, but he then fell away in the second half. Ronaldo was left too isolated from his teammates to be decisive this evening, but I did not see the midfielders moving it slowly at all.”

Recall that before the teams secured their place in the semi’s, Milan beat Torino, while Juventus had to do justice to AS Roma in the quarter finals.

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