VAR drama mars Juve's historic win

Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero with both goals in the 2-1 win over Sampdoria on Saturday, but controversy has arisen over whether the penalty from which he got his second goal should have been given.
Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero with both goals in the 2-1 win over Sampdoria on Saturday, but controversy has arisen over whether the penalty from which he got his second goal should have been given.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TURIN • Juventus set a new points record in Serie A on Saturday with 53 from 19 games, but the seven-time defending Italian champions signed off for the winter break with the controversy surrounding the role of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ringing in their ears.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Juventus, undefeated in the league this season, closed out the year with a 2-1 win over Sampdoria to go nine clear of second-placed Napoli.

But VAR played a key role at the Allianz Stadium as two debatable penalties were awarded - one for Massimiliano Allegri's men and one for Sampdoria - while the opposition also had an added-time equaliser controversially ruled out by the technology.

Ronaldo curled in the opener after just two minutes in Turin, adding a second from the spot on 65 minutes to go top of the league's scoring charts on 14 goals and Allegri was delighted with the hard-fought victory.

The Bianconeri have dropped points just twice, against Genoa in October and Atalanta in midweek, and are firmly on track for an eighth consecutive Scudetto.

The Juventus coach told reporters: "It was important to end the year on a high and it wasn't at all easy.

"Records are meaningless, if not to improve and raise the bar. We do have the perception that with Ronaldo, there's a better chance of winning the Champions League. However, we're not even in January yet and there's a long way to go."

However, his counterpart Marco Giampaolo slammed Ronaldo's penalty as "a gift", before adding that (Riccardo) Saponara's goal should never have been cancelled".

He blasted: "For me, morally, the game was 2-2."

According to the BBC, the VAR was right to award Sampdoria's penalty as well as rule out Saponara's strike for offside, but Ronaldo's spot-kick should not have been given as Alex Ferrari's handball was not deliberate.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2018, with the headline 'VAR drama mars Juve's historic win'. Print Edition | Subscribe