Tired Juve deserve comeback victory: Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating what proved to be the winner against Empoli with his teammates. The Portuguese forward's long-range strike gave the Serie A leaders a 2-1 victory.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating what proved to be the winner against Empoli with his teammates. The Portuguese forward's long-range strike gave the Serie A leaders a 2-1 victory.PHOTO: REUTERS

MILAN • Cristiano Ronaldo struck a thunderous winner that was the stuff of highlight reels but he could not remember very well the goal that helped Juventus come from behind to beat Empoli 2-1.

The seven-time defending Italian champions moved to 28 points, seven clear at the top after Saturday's battling victory saw the Portuguese star score his sixth, a penalty, and seventh Serie A goals. Second-placed Napoli hosted Roma late yesterday.

Empoli, without a win since the opening weekend, grabbed a 28th-minute lead at the Stadio Carlo Castellani as Francesco Caputo curled home following a lung-busting run by Afriyie Acquah.

Juventus then turned to their €100 million (S$157.6 million) man Ronaldo to secure a ninth win in 10 league matches despite the forward yet to open his accounts for the club in the Champions League.

"It was a complicated game. We knew it would be difficult after a Champions League tie and we were a bit tired," Ronaldo, coming off a triumphant 1-0 return to Manchester United, told Sky Sport Italia.

"We stayed in the game, increased our possession, created more chances after the break and, in the end, deserved the victory.

"I don't remember the goal very well, I'll have to watch it again. It all happened very quickly, but I felt confident and I went for the goal."

Coach Massimiliano Allegri said: "Tomorrow, lots of kids will go out and try and imitate what they saw him do, and they will definitely learn more through that than they will with abstract concepts."

However, the Italian was less concerned about the aesthetics of winning, saying: "I told the lads, this was a game we had to win, it didn't matter how well or badly we played."

His team trailed at half-time for the first time this season and their unbeaten start of 12 wins and one draw came under threat.

Empoli, who played some enterprising football belying their lowly position, had Ivan Provedel to thank for two spectacular saves in quick succession in the second half to keep them ahead.

Juventus finally had their reward when Paulo Dybala pinched the ball off a dallying Ismael Bennacer in the box, winning a penalty as he was bundled over.

Ronaldo sent Provedel the wrong way to score for the third league game running and bring the visitors level on 54 minutes, with ongoing rape allegations not appearing to unsettle him.

After last weekend's 1-1 draw with Genoa, he completed a more successful week with an unstoppable shot into the top left corner 20 minutes from time.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2018, with the headline 'Tired Juve deserve comeback victory: Ronaldo'. Print Edition | Subscribe