Ronaldo scores brace to send Juventus four points clear with win over Parma - GulfToday

Ronaldo scores brace to send Juventus four points clear with win over Parma


Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after their victory over Parma in an Italian League match on Sunday. Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace as Juventus got better of Parma to extend their lead to four points over second place Inter Milan at the top of the Italian League standings on Sunday.

Inter’s title push hit another stumbling block after a 1-1 draw at lowly Lecce while Ante Rebic fired city rivals AC Milan to a last gasp 3-2 win over Udinese.

Ronaldo broke the deadlock just before the break, to score in a seventh consecutive league game, and almost set up a second just after for Aaron Ramsey, but the Welsh international rattled the post.

Andreas Cornelius struck with a stunning header to put  seventh-placed Parma back level ten minutes into the second half.

But the visitors could not get time to heave a sigh of relief as Ronaldo struck again as he darted Paulo Dybala’s pass into the nets for his 11th goal in last games to take his tally to 16 in the season.

“It was important that we win tonight,” said Ronaldo. “Lazio won, Inter drew so it was important to take advantage. Parma pushed forward in the end, we got a little nervous, but we managed to get the result.”

The eight-time reigning champions have a four-point cushion on Inter, who have won only two of their last six league games, and are now also under threat from Lazio, who are just two points behind with a game in hand after hammering Sampdoria 5-1 on Saturday.

Antonio Conte’s side had looked set to take maximum points from his hometown team, where he started his footballing career in the 1980s, when Alessandro Bastoni headed the away side in front with 18 minutes remaining.

But Marco Mancosu grabbed a precious point for the southerners five minutes after going behind.

“For me there’s always great emotion,” said Conte of his return to Lecce.

“Coming back to the Stadio Via del Mare means going back 30-35 years.

“I spent my childhood as a ball boy here. There will always be this attachment, but I am a professional and I try to do this job better.”

Lecce -- just one point above the relegation zone -- were coming off a four-match losing streak, but had held Juventus by the same scoreline back in October.

“Congratulations to them, even if conceding this goal leaves a bitter taste in the mouth,” added Conte.

Meanwhile, Mario Balotelli was sent off after just seven minutes on the field on Sunday after picking up two bookings in the space of seconds during Brescia’s 2-2 Serie A draw with Cagliari.

Italy forward Balotelli started on the bench but came on in the 74th minute with the teams level after Ernesto Torregrossa and Joao Pedro had both bagged braces.

The 29-year-old received a yellow card for a foul on Fabio Pisacane with nine minutes remaining before quickly receiving his marching orders when he lost his temper with referee Antonio Giua over the decision, reportedly directing an expletive at the match official.

Balotelli will now be ruled out of Brescia’s home clash with his former team AC Milan on Friday.

“It’s incredible how one episode can always change a person’s opinion from too negative or positive so drastically,” the former Liverpool and Manchester City attacker later wrote on Instagram.

“I will continue with my work this time too, it’s not a problem. You can continue to judge me as you wish.”

Brescia coach Eugenio Corini defended the striker.

“The sending off seemed excessive to me, the yellow already seemed too much,” said the coach.

Balotelli has scored five goals since rejoining his hometown club this season from Marseille, but the promoted side are third from bottom and struggling for Serie A safety.


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