The Malta Independent 26 April 2019, Friday

Supercoppa: Cristiano Ronaldo helps Juventus squeeze past Milan

Associated Press Wednesday, 16 January 2019, 20:33 Last update: about 4 months ago

Juventus have become the first club to win the Supercoppa eight times, as Cristiano Ronaldo’s header was decisive, but Milan were furious about two refereeing decisions.

The Super Cup is traditionally between the Scudetto winners and Coppa Italia holders, but as Juve did the Double last year, they faced the losing Coppa Finalists Milan in Jeddah. These were the two most successful clubs in the history of the competition on seven wins apiece.

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The build-up was dominated by Gonzalo Higuain, not because he was facing his parent club, but as he was on the verge of a transfer to Chelsea. He was expected to start, but was eventually benched, officially because of a ‘fever.’ Suso was suspended with Lucas Biglia, Jack Bonaventura and Mattia Caldara injured, while Juve missed Mario Mandzukic, Joao Cancelo, Andrea Barzagli and Medhi Benatia.

Douglas Costa’s curler flashed just wide and Joao Cancelo, returning from injury, skimmed the far post with his angled drive. Wojciech Szczesny got away with misjudging a corner, as Samu Castillejo fired over the bar, while Juve wasted a promising counter-attack with Giorgio Chiellini.

Blaise Matuidi thought he had opened the scoring on 34 minutes, but was flagged just offside as he pounced on a through ball to beat Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s acrobatic mid-air volley from a Douglas Costa cross bounced off the ground to graze the crossbar with Donnarumma rooted to the spot.

At the other end, Szczesny needed a tough save to deny Calhanoglu’s angled drive after promising work from Lucas Paquetá.

Straight after the restart, Milan again created havoc in the Juve box, as a misplaced Miralem Pjanic pass ricocheted into the path of Cutrone, who spun round and blasted it on to the crossbar with his weaker left foot.

Juve finally got their first shot on target at the 59th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo cutting inside Davide Calabria for a powerful strike to sting Donnarumma’s gloves at the near post.

It was a warning, as CR7 broke the deadlock moments later. He sprung the offside trap on a floated Pjanic ball over the top for a glancing header past Donnarumma. Ricardo Rodriguez kept him level and Alessio Romagnoli didn’t jump to intercept the assist.

Dybala had the ball in the net after a give-and-go with Matuidi, but the Frenchman had wandered offside during the build-up and it was disallowed.

Despite failing to start because of a fever, Higuain was introduced for the final 20 minutes along with Fabio Borini. However, Franck Kessie was sent off after a VAR review for his stamp on Emre Can’s ankle, as Luca Banti had originally only booked the Milan midfielder.

Donnarumma was alert to push a deflected Alex Sandro cross on to the upright, but Calabria was booked and will also be suspended against Genoa in Serie A on Monday.

Milan were furious when Emre Can appeared to clatter into the back of Andrea Conti from six yards, but the referee waved play on and the VAR booth did not consider it worthy of a review.

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