Tag Archives: Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo ties Ali Daei record with 109th Portugal goal vs France at Euro 2020

Cristiano Ronaldo has drawn level with Iran’s Ali Daei for the most international goals in the history of world football. Ronaldo scored his 109th goal for Portugal on Wednesday night, the 36-year-old netting a brace of penalties in his country’s final Euro 2020 group stage match against France in Budapest, Hungary.

After Danilo had been caught by Hugo Lloris’ attempt to punch the ball clear at a free-kick, Ronaldo stepped up to send the Tottenham goalkeeper the wrong way from 12 yards and make it 1-0 on half-an-hour.

His former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema scored twice, including a spot-kick of his own, either side of half-time to put the world champions in front at the Puskas Arena.

But Ronaldo was given the chance to drawl Portugal level again on the hour mark following a Jules Kounde handball inside the area.

And he did just that, finding the back of the net for his 109th goal for Portugal and his 755th career strike for club and country.

That saw him move level with Iranian icon Daei, who managed his incredible 109-goal return return between 1993 and 2006 inside just 149 appearances for his nation.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, is on five goals in three games alone at Euro 2020 after his double against France. 

His brace moves him comfortably clear of Patrik Schick, Emil Forsberg, Romelu Lukaku, Gini Wijnaldum and Robert Lewandowski, who are all tied on three goals.

Ronaldo scored twice in a 3-0 defeat of Hungary and again in a 4-2 defeat to Germany.

Thanks to his France double, Juventus centre-forward Ronaldo is now the European all-time top goalscorer at major tournaments with 21 goals, surpassing Germany legend Miroslav Klose.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid attacker has scored at more World Cups and European Championships than the entire country of Poland since he was born, such is his prolific record.

Ronaldo’s 109 goals have come in 177 caps, having made his debut for his country in August 2003 aged 18.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner will hope to add to his record in the knockout stages of the Euros with Portugal going through third in Group F.

That sets them up against Belgium, while France will play Switzerland and Germany will take on England.

Ronaldo’s tally of five goals in the group stages is the second most ever scored by a single player at this stage of the tournament.

Michel Platini’s tally of seven, in 1984, was the only time in the history of the Euros that one player has scored more in the groups.

Ronaldo already broke records earlier at Euro 2020 in the win over Hungary as he became the first player ever to score at five different European Championships.

His 10th and 11th Euros goals against the Hungarians made him the all-time leading scorer in the competition’s history, although he has since extended that tally to 14.

At club level, meanwhile, Ronaldo could again be on the move this summer with it rumoured United could look to re-sign him. Barcelona and PSG are other clubs linked.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Man Utd must overcome two stumbling blocks to secure Cristiano Ronaldo transfer

Manchester United’s hopes of securing a sensational return for Cristiano Ronaldo rely on the Red Devils overcoming two major hurdles in the deal that would take him from Juventus.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is interested in signing a forward this summer and has been linked with a move for the former Old Trafford star.

Ronaldo is about to enter the final year of his contract with the Serie A side and is considering his future following a disappointing campaign.

Juventus finished fourth in the Italian top-flight and had their nine-year domination of the division ended by Inter Milan.

The 36-year-old had a successful personal season and may choose to depart if he sees no sign of improvement, despite Massimiliano Allegri already replacing the sacked Andrea Pirlo as boss.

JUST IN: Man Utd target Ronaldo ‘holds Allegri talks’ with roadmap laid bare

It is believed that the Norwegian wants a defender, a midfielder and a forward.

“Of course, we’re planning as we normally do, that’s an ongoing process,” Solskjaer said after his side defeated Wolves on the final day of the season.

“We’re looking at the squad and I hope we’re going to strengthen with two or three players [who] we definitely need to challenge higher up in the table.

“We’re still too far behind to think it’s just going to come by itself.

“We’ve had a few players on loan that might come back in. There is interest in a few others going out.

“You want to come out of the transfer window strengthened. It’s difficult to say, I can’t see too many outgoings.

“We’re not where we aimed to be. But we’ve got ambitions to move up one place.

“But there’s been steady improvement. Third last season, second this season, some more points. We’ve done really well away from home.

“We know we had a difficult start to the season, losing three of the first six games and loads of them were home games, which put pressure on the team.

“The players have been very, very good.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Kevin De Bruyne copies Cristiano Ronaldo to complete full Man City sweep of PFA awards

“You want to win all the trophies with the team, and this is probably the most important one as an individual trophy in the league.

“To be voted by your competitors, by players you compete with every game, to choose you, that says a lot.

“They’re the people in my view who know most about the game. When you have these things, you can show your kids and say ‘Look, this is what daddy did when he was younger.’”

De Bruyne’s win completed a clean sweep of the PFA awards for City, with his team-mate Phil Foden named Young Player of the Year.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Ronaldo wants US court to dismiss Vegas rape hush-money case

Lawyers for Ronaldo want a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed after reports of the 2009 encounter became public.

LAS VEGAS — More than a decade after soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo paid $ 375,000 to hush a Nevada woman’s claim that he raped her in Las Vegas, new allegations about cyber hacking, document theft and attorney misconduct are being raised to block the woman’s bid for another payout.

Ronaldo’s lawyers are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed after reports of the sexual encounter became public and to punish the woman’s attorney, Leslie Mark Stovall, for soliciting allegedly stolen documents in July 2018 from an entity called “Football Leaks,” months before filing the case.

“No sanction less than dismissal will suffice,” Ronaldo’s attorneys, Peter Christiansen and Kendelee Works, wrote in a federal court filing submitted May 27. “At a minimum, Stovall must be disqualified from acting as counsel in this matter.”

A federal magistrate judge on Tuesday halted plans for Stovall to question witnesses including Ronaldo under oath — at least until U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey in Las Vegas rules whether to dismiss the case, disqualify the woman’s attorneys and impose sanctions against them. A hearing was not immediately scheduled.

Ronaldo, now 36, is one of the most recognizable and highly paid players in sports. He plays in Italy for the Turin-based soccer club Juventus and captains his home country team from Portugal.

Stovall, lead attorney for plaintiff Kathryn Mayorga, did not immediately respond Wednesday to telephone and email messages about the developments.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Mayorga gave consent through Stovall and attorney Larissa Drohobyczer to make her name public.

Mayorga signed a non-disclosure agreement in 2010, and Stovall acknowledges she accepted $ 375,000 not to talk about the encounter or the settlement. Mayorga was represented at the time by different attorneys.

The existence of the settlement was described in a September 2018 article by the German publication Der Spiegel. It depicted Mayorga, now 37, a former model and schoolteacher, as “an anonymous woman versus Ronaldo.”

The lawsuit Stovall filed for Mayorga two days before the Der Spiegel article appeared accuses Ronaldo or those working for him of conspiracy, defamation, breach of contract, coercion and fraud for allegedly letting the settlement become public in Europe. Her attorneys say Mayorga never wanted her name made public.

The lawsuit acknowledges she met Ronaldo at a nightclub at the Palms Hotel and Casino and went with him and other people to his suite. She alleges he sexually assaulted her in a bedroom.

Ronaldo, through his attorneys, maintains the sex was consensual.

Ronaldo’s lawyers asked in 2019 for the case to be dismissed. Dorsey said last September she would hold a bench trial to determine whether Mayorga “lacked the mental capacity” to sign a confidentiality arrangement with Ronaldo’s representatives in 2010 and “whether any agreement … was ever formed between the parties.” No trial date has been set.

Ronaldo’s attorneys now accuse Stovall of “egregious” legal misconduct since filing the case in state court in September 2018. It was moved in 2019 to federal court. They allege Stovall “tainted the truth-finding process” by withholding key information from them and judges.

Christiansen declined to comment for this report, saying the court filing — 196 pages, including 24 exhibits — speaks for itself. Some documents were sealed because of previous court confidentiality rulings.

Court filings accuse Stovall of seeking from an unidentified cyber-hacker stolen records of confidential communications between Ronaldo and his attorneys from the time when the settlement was being negotiated with Mayorga and her previous attorneys in 2010.

Ronaldo’s lawyers question the authenticity of what they term the “Football Leaks” documents and maintain that they may have been altered.

“Stovall … not only used those documents as exhibits to public filings in this case, but also as support for his request that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reopen a decade old investigation to prosecute” Ronaldo, his defense filing says.

Police spent a year investigating, including obtaining a sample of Ronaldo’s DNA through Italian authorities.

Mayorga submitted DNA and underwent a medical exam shortly after she alleged she was attacked. But police closed their investigation at the time because police said Mayorga only identified her attacker as a European soccer player and never said where the alleged attack took place.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, the elected prosecutor in Las Vegas, said in July 2019 that unspecified forensic and video evidence had been lost over time. He declined to press criminal charges against Ronaldo.

In any civil litigation, both parties are required to share relevant information and documents.

But Ronaldo’s lawyers said they learned less than five weeks ago — and only after combing through documents that Stovall provided to Las Vegas police in 2018 — that Stovall possessed materials showing what Ronaldo and his lawyers talked about when the settlement was reached.

“More than 200 documents appear to be stolen attorney-client communications and work product that Stovall obtained from Football Leaks and provided to LVMPD,” Ronaldo’s attorneys wrote, adding that the material was “never disclosed to Defendant in this litigation.”

“Stovall’s knowledge of the content … cannot be undone,” Ronaldo’s defense attorneys complain. Even if a judge orders Mayorga’s attorney not to use the disputed documents while questioning witnesses, Stovall will “utilize the information gleaned from the purloined material,” they said.

“There is simply no way to unring the bell,” the court filing said.

Negotiations in 2010 took months and included oversight by a mediator in Las Vegas, who is among other witnesses subpoenaed by Stovall for questioning. Those sessions had been scheduled later this month, but they are now on hold.

Stovall maintains that Mayorga had learning disabilities as a child and was mentally unfit to enter the 2010 confidentiality agreement. Court filings allege she was pressured by “fixers” and attorneys for Ronaldo trying to protect his reputation.

Mayorga wants to void the deal and collect at least $ 200,000 more from Ronaldo, according to court documents filed by Stovall.

Some recent media reports say Stovall is seeking tens of millions of dollars, but Stovall and Drohobyczer did not respond to questions from The Associated Press about those amounts. Christiansen has declined to confirm those reports.

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Man Utd have £68m Cristiano Ronaldo transfer theory as return a real possibility

Manchester United reportedly think Cristiano Ronaldo‘s price this summer could be lowered because of the enormous cost of his wages to Juventus each season. It’s thought his gross salary and the amortisation of his contract sets the Italian giants back around £68million (€80m) every year.
Ronaldo’s future is uncertain after three years in Turin and he was an unused substitute for the final day of the season when Juve’s Champions League status was yet to be confirmed.

Even still, the 36-year-old outscored Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku – another ex-United frontman – to be crowned Serie A’s top scorer after 29 strikes in 33 games.

Despite that it is thought Ronaldo – who is out of contract in a year’s time – could move on from the Allianz Stadium in the coming months.

That belief is partly down to the huge expense of keeping him in Italy for an extra 12 months. The financial pressure that Juve are under would be lifted almost solely by shedding Ronaldo’s salary off the wage bill.

And The Athletic say that United think his price could be brought down by the fact Juve need to balance the books and would appreciate the chance to remove his pay-packet.

MUST READ: Man Utd’s Cristiano Ronaldo transfer hopes boosted by Juve’s U-turn

The Portugal captain has financial motives to stay at Juve due to tax incentives in the country but may be open to another new challenge.

Juve have failed to win the Champions League since his £99m switch from Real Madrid in 2018 which was engineered because of the Bianconeri’s desire to lift a first European Cup since 1996.

The Athletic say that despite the theory he could be available at a price much lower than that, it is likely Juve will still want to at least match his book value on their accounts.

That is estimated to stand at roughly £24m which on top of his salary for at least two seasons, any deal for Ronaldo still would not come cheaply for the Red Devils.

Yet a return to Old Trafford for the first time since 2009, having spent six years there under Sir Alex Ferguson, may be a genuine possibility this summer.

Reports from Spain have suggested a move back to United is a ‘priority’ for Ronaldo as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner seeks to move on.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane are other expensive potential additions said to be coveted by United, with Solskjaer keen to make at least two or three buys to strengthen his starting eleven.

But the possibility of an emotional homecoming for Ronaldo, a man with 674 club career goals and 229 assists in 894 appearances, might be too hard to ignore for the United hierarchy.

That is despite the fact he would instantly become the club’s highest-paid player over David de Gea, though his pedigree speaks for itself and it is thought United would be able to justify his wages as such.

ESPN have meanwhile claimed that Solskjaer wants as many as five signings to beef up his squad having been handed a £150m transfer budget, prior to player sales.

A striker, a winger, a defensive midfielder, a centre-back and a right-back are all being eyed, with Ronaldo fitting very much into the centre-forward category.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Man Utd's Cristiano Ronaldo transfer dilemma may have been solved for them by Juventus

Manchester United‘s array of recruitment options up top may have been trimmed down by one after Juventus secured Champions League qualification courtesy of both themselves beating Bologna and Napoli’s slip-up on Sunday night.
Cristiano Ronaldo has once again been heavily linked with a return to Old Trafford, having left United back in 2009 to join Real Madrid in a then world record-breaking transfer.

And it was claimed this month by The Athletic that the Portugal international, who only joined Juve for £99million in 2018, might be on the move again this summer.

Staff at United are said to be monitoring his situation with it claimed a failure to qualify for Ronaldo’s favourite tournament the Champions League, in which he has scored a record 134 times goals in 176 games, would trigger his exit plans.

Yet while it was also suggested he could still leave even with a top-four finish, Ronaldo is now much more likely to see out the final year of his lucrative £30m-a-year contract.

The 36-year-old ended the season with a Serie A high 29 goals in 33 games – becoming the first player ever to be the top scorer in Italy, Spain and England’s top-flights – and across all competitions managed 40 direct goal contributions in 44 appearances, although he didn’t find the net against Bologna.

That was because Ronaldo was an unused substitute for Juve’s final league match. Outsiders might read that and believe it indicates his future is unclear – but Andrea Pirlo said others.

The Juve boss explained post-match: “It was a shared decision, Ronaldo was tired after Wednesday’s game, so I decided to start [Alvaro] Morata, another great player.

“Ronaldo was available, I have a deep squad, and I can pick many different players.”

Ronaldo didn’t need to come from the bench as Juve ran out 4-1 winners, with Napoli’s 1-1 draw at home to Hellas Verona allowing them to snatch fourth spot.

And Pirlo had also said before the Bologna game that he was confident Ronaldo would stick around in Turin.

“I see him still in the Bianconero jersey and focused,” Pirlo said. “He proved it the other night, sacrificing himself because he wanted to win the Coppa Italia. I see him focused on tomorrow, then there’s time to discuss the rest.”

Now, with Juve assured of being in the European Cup next term, surely both the player and the club will want to have one last go at ending their 25-year-plus wait for continental glory.

Ronaldo would have to take a significant wage cut to leave the Italian heavyweights and the tax rules in his current place of home means he will keep much of his huge income if he remains there.

Provided he remains as important for Juve next season as he has been this term, then why quit? Ronaldo may feel it’s time for another new challenge or he might feel the club can’t match his ambitions under Pirlo (though he’s not guaranteed to remain in charge anyway).

But a mutual parting of ways seems far more probable in the summer of 2022, when he will become a high-profile free agent.

But Ronaldo’s availability might have swayed them to abandon plans to sign a Kane or a Sancho given how tempting it would be to recruit a player of such pedigree over their younger alternatives.

In the long-term, it certainly makes the most sense on and off the pitch to go for one of the two England internationals, but members of the boardroom might have backed a swoop for Ronaldo given his status as a club legend and as one of the game’s all-time greats.

Ronaldo has shown his enduring quality with his continually-high goalscoring return but there is no doubt that will soon have to slow down as his body begins to feel the wear and tear of his illustrious career.

Now though, Solskjaer and co. might be spared the decision, and they will be left free to pick who their summer priority will be between Kane and Sancho, with such a call then expected to shape their potential options at centre-half.

Kane would cost £150m-plus as well as signing-on fees and huge wages while Sancho would be available at around £80m and on a cheaper, but still significant, salary. The wide-man is not yet at the level of his countryman, however.

It’s an unenviously tough decision for United, who don’t have the finances just to sign both, but if they don’t have to also take Ronaldo’s future into consideration, at least it’s a decision made slightly easier.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Man Utd sent Erling Haaland transfer reminder amid Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo talk

You’d do well to find a Manchester United transfer round-up not centered on something about Tottenham striker Harry Kane‘s future right now. Unsurprisingly, the want-away Spurs talisman’s next move is a hot topic at present, with United, Manchester City and Chelsea all feasible destinations.
United’s stance on signing Kane, with their interest obvious but the exact chances of any bid less clear, promises to have huge repercussions on their plans for the rest of the window.

Opt to go big for the England captain, who will cost them at least £150million in transfer fees before even considering wages, and United are unlikely to be able to sign an elite-level centre-back as well for example.

Go for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho at £80m and perhaps also bringing Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane to Manchester, at around £40m or more, becomes more realistic.

The United hierarchy therefore have to ask themselves how important it is that they sign a world-class centre-forward, or whether they can afford to pass on Kane and potentially let him join City or Chelsea.

The 27-year-old Spurs frontman certainly seems determined to quit the north London outfit, and he wants to sit down and have an “honest conversation” with chairman Daniel Levy.

MUST-READ MAN UTD NEWS: Man Utd ready to double Harry Kane’s wages in £18m transfer promise

Cristiano Ronaldo is another potential high-profile acquisition as an alternative to Kane with Juventus’ Champions League qualification uncertain and the Portuguese still going strong at 36.

Serie A’s top scorer with 29 goals, United are thought to be keeping an eye on Ronaldo’s situation in Turin amid the possibility of a blockbuster return should Juve miss out on the top four in Italy.

Yet while speculation swirls particularly over Kane and now Ronaldo too, there is one man whose future was previously the talk of the town who has been consigned to the background – Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland.

When Mino Raiola and the player’s father Alf-Inge Haaland were holding meetings about the player’s future with Real Madrid and Barcelona, everyone was talking about him, but now discussions over the big Norwegian’s future are no longer as prominent.

Yet the 20-year-old has continued to excel for Dortmund nonetheless and on Saturday scored a brace to end the season on 27 Bundesliga goals, only outscored by Eintracht Frankfurt’s Andre Silva (28) and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (41) in Germany’s top tier.

Across all competitions, Haaland concluded the campaign with 41 goals and 12 assists in as many appearances, despite the fact he does not even turn 21 years old until July. He now has a summer off with his country having failed to qualify for the Euros.

The Norway international’s overall record across his spells with Molde, Red Bull Salzburg and Dortmund – whom he left to join in January 2020 for £17m – reads: 136 games, 106 goals, 28 assists.

In the right attack at the right team, Haaland is a Ballon d’Or winner primed to score 500-plus goals at club level. That’s why Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man United, Man City and Chelsea all like him.

Kane and Ronaldo might be the more attainable signings in the immediate summer but Haaland is the most long-term of the trio, and the one best equipped to make United title challengers not just next season or in the next three or four, but the next 10.

The towering Leeds-born frontman looks ready to rival players such as Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Sancho for the tag of world’s best forward in the post-Lionel Messi and Ronaldo era.

And in Solskjaer, he would be working with a man he already knows well having played under his countryman at Molde. The United boss has repeatedly taken the change to laud his compatriot’s talents in the eye of the public in recent months.

While passing on Kane is risky and United fans might love a Ronaldo reunion, there is plenty of sense behind signing multiple players to improve the team such as Sancho and Varane this summer and then adding the final piece in a Haaland next year.

Such deals wouldn’t be easy to pull off given the competition but while others are focused on the likes of Kane, perhaps United would be wise to keep conversations with Haaland’s representatives going.

Getting the Dortmund striker to Old Trafford would mark a glorious start for United’s new-look recruitment staff, and could lead to even more glory on the pitch.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Conor McGregor beats Messi, Ronaldo and Hamilton to top Forbes' sporting rich list

Conor McGregor is the world’s most highly-paid athletes. That’s the verdict of Forbes, whose annual list of the most highly-paid athletes in world sport has listed him at the top of the pile after a remarkable 12-month spell that saw his out-of-the-cage earnings dwarf his significant fight purse from his defeat to Dustin Poirier.
McGregor fought just once over the last 12 months, with his second-round TKO defeat to Poirier netting him a cool $ 22 million.

But his business ventures, including his sale of his stake in the hugely successful Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskey and his numerous endorsement and partnership deals, including with Draft Kings and Roots of Fight, amounted to a colossal $ 158 million.

It gave McGregor, whose total in-competition cage time over the past 12 months amounted to just seven minutes, 32 seconds, a total figure of $ 180 million for the past year.

Remarkably, McGregor’s out-of-the-cage earnings figure alone surpasses the earnings totals of each of the other stars on Forbes’ Top 10 list.

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The NFL was represented in the list, with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott earning a total of $ 107.5 million through his bumper contract with “America’s Team.”

Prescott earned a whopping $ 97.5 million, making him the highest on-the-field earner in the entire list. 

But his more modest $ 10 million in off-the-field earnings mean he sits at No. 4 in the rankings.

The split between sporting earnings and business earnings was noticeably different for NBA superstar Lebron James, whose $ 65 million in off-the-court earnings represented more than double his $ 31.5 million on-the-court earnings for a total figure of $ 96.5 million.

PSG ace Neymar came in sixth on the list, with total earnings of $ 95 million, but perhaps the most eye-catching earning differential came at No. 7, with tennis star Roger Federer banking $ 90 million for the year.

However, almost the entire figure came from off-the-court earnings, with $ 0.03 million coming through on-court winnings.

Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton ($ 82 million) was listed eighth, while Super Bowl MVP and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady ($ 76 million) came in ninth.

The final name in the list, Brooklyn Nets basketball star Kevin Durant, took home $ 75 million.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Ronaldo to the rescue: Portugal superstar saves Andrea Pirlo and Juventus with late brace to keep Champions League chase alive

On the day their rivals Inter were crowned champions, Cristiano Ronaldo kept Juventus’ hopes of finishing in the top four alive by sinking Udinese with a late double that could have saved under-pressure manager Andrea Pirlo’s job.

Reports before kick off claimed that Pirlo could be fired if he failed to win at the Stadio Friuli, and Nahuel Molina’s goal after 10 minutes threatened to derail the visitors’ quest for a consolatory Champions League place, as well as the 2006 World Cup legend prospects of seeking a new employer by the turn of the week.

Argentina international Rodrigo De Paul caught the Old Lady napping with a quick free-kick which sent compatriot Molina down the right flank, unleashing a vicious strike that sneaked past Wojciech Szczesny despite the Poland goalkeeper managed to apply a touch to it.

Taking their lead down the tunnel at half time, Udinese started strongly again after the interval with Tolgay Arslan hitting just wide.

When Ronaldo had a weak attempt smothered easily, Juventus looked as though they might never find a way through. 

But the Serie A top scorer always does, with De Paul going from assist hero to zero by putting an elbow on the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s free-kick in the box. 

After CR7 smashed the resulting penalty past Simone Scuffet, who was starting his first game for Udinese since 2018, the visitors went for the jugular.

In the 89th minute, Ronaldo met an Adrien Rabiot cross at the back post and headed in to trigger a passionate sprint from Pirlo down the touchline in celebration, as Juve finished 2-1 winners, leaving them joint second with Atalanta and AC Milan.

“This victory arrived with determination and fight. We once again made life complicated for ourselves but we wanted to bring home the result right to the end and that’s what is important,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.

“It was particularly crucial considering the results from this afternoon. This is a group that’s strong: it wants to fight for its targets and we never lacked that.

“Sometimes the attitude during the game was not worthy of Juventus, but the final embrace was a show of our unity. Now we need to continue with this spirit.

“I thought it’d be a bit less stressful and emotional, but when you win games like this at the end, it gives you the energy to keep going.”

“There’s fatigue, both physical and mental, so when you’re used to challenging for the [Italian title] Scudetto and not the Champions League, something changes. We have adapted – it’s a struggle, but we need to get there.”

Pirlo gave credit where it was due to his former manager, Antonio Conte.“I congratulate Inter and the boss for this deserved title,” he said, discussing the runaway leaders who have won the league with four matches to spare.

“Now we need to change because we want to be the champions again. One era ends after [Juve won] nine consecutive Scudetti – another will now begin and we aim to be back there.”

Udinese director Pierpaolo Marino was less cordial, alleging that Juventus chief Fabio Paratici tried to “intimidate” and “influence” the referee.

“I am angry because my team put in a great performance and I am here to protect their hard work,” he raged.

“The Ronaldo free-kick that led to the penalty should’ve been a free kick in Udinese’s favor instead.

“I am a veteran of football, so I’ve seen before those who cling to complaining over the lack of first-half stoppages to intimidate the referee.

“Then after that, the referee can give a penalty for a free kick that was non-existent. It’s [Juventus winger] Juan Cuadrado who fouls [defender] Jens Stryger-Larsen, not the other way round.

“It was a blatant error and cannot be ignored. I believe the referee was influenced by this verbal assault at half-time by the Juve directors, staff, coaches and players.

“The way they were behaving, it was as if they’d lost because there weren’t 40 seconds of stoppages.

“This sort of thing belongs to football of another era. I spoke out against it then and I’ll speak out against it now.”
Also on rt.com Ronaldo and Pirlo will BOTH be at Juventus next season, says Pavel Nedved

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