Ron brings house down in Juve friendly debut

Juventus fans invading the pitch at half-time to take pictures with their new Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Juventus fans invading the pitch at half-time to take pictures with their new Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TURIN (Italy) • Cristiano Ronaldo gave a display of pure star power in his debut for Italian Serie A champions Juventus on Sunday, showing his class on and off the pitch at the club's traditional alpine curtain-raiser.

Nearly 5,000 fans crammed into the compact Gaetano Scirea Stadium in Villar Perosa at the foot of the Italian Alps, as supporters descended on the small town in order to catch a glimpse of the forward in his first appearance since signing from Real Madrid for €100 million (S$156.5 million) last month.

They were rewarded with a goal in the friendly between Juve's first team and a youth "B" side from their new hero, who also took the extra effort to sign autographs and pose for wefies while many of his team-mates slipped off to the dressing room.

Ronaldo proved good value for the hype, scoring in the 10th minute with a neat finish after breaking through the offside trap.

The match was called off with 20 minutes to go and the first team leading 5-0, after supporters invaded the pitch to mob their heroes.

Centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, who returned to Juve earlier this month after one season at AC Milan, was also stripped down to his underwear.

Chants of "Ronaldo, bring us the Champions (League)" had filled the air as supporters worked their way through a locked-down mountain town in which 600 police officers were called to a place with a population of just over 4,000 and roadblocks stopped anyone entering without a match ticket or proof of residence.

The town's bars and restaurants were filled to the brim, with fans in replica kits arriving to see the five-time Ballon d'Or winner take part in one of Italian football's most curious traditions.

"With the arrival of Ronaldo, our expectations are higher for the Champions League. He's won the last three (with Real)," said fan Massimo Savelli, who believes Juve can taste European glory for the first time since 1996 this season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2018, with the headline 'Ron brings house down in Juve friendly debut'. Print Edition | Subscribe