Ronaldo rocket gives Juventus scrappy win at Empoli

first_img0Shares0000Cristiano Ronaldo netted both goals as Juventus extended their unbeaten start in Italy © AFP / MARCO BERTORELLOMilan, Italy, Oct 27 – Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice, including a thunderous 25-yard drive, as Italian champions Juventus surged seven points clear in Serie A on Saturday following a battling 2-1 victory at Empoli.Empoli, without a win since the opening weekend of the season, grabbed a 28th-minute lead at the Stadio Carlo Castellani as Francesco Caputo curled home following a lung-busting run by Afriyie Acquah. But Juventus turned to their 100-million-euro man Ronaldo in the second half, as the Portugal forward equalised from the spot before blasting home a magnificent second to secure a ninth win in 10 Serie A matches for Massimiliano Allegri’s team.“It was a very complicated game. We knew it would be difficult, especially after a Champions League tie and we were a bit tired,” Ronaldo 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.”After Caputo’s opener, the hosts appealed for a penalty when Miha Zajc’s shot glanced the arm of Leonardo Bonucci as he attempted to charge down the attempt, but the referee opted against punishing the Italy defender after reviewing the incident on video.Empoli goalkeeper Ivan Provedel pulled off two spectacular saves in quick succession to thwart Alex Sandro and Miralem Pjanic early in the second half, as Juventus — who beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford in midweek — saw their unbeaten record come under threat.Provedel flung himself in front of a firmly-hit effort by Sandro from close range, and then sprang acrobatically to his right to touch a Pjanic drive onto the crossbar as Empoli failed to clear after the initial attack.– ‘Moment of magic’ –But Juve hit back when Paulo Dybala pinched the ball off a dallying Ismael Bennacer in the Empoli box, drawing a penalty as the Algeria midfielder proceeded to bundle over the Argentine.Ronaldo sent Provedel the wrong way from the spot to score for the third league game running and bring Juve level on 54 minutes, as the turmoil of rape allegations do not appear to be unsettling the Portuguese forward on the pitch.After last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Genoa, Ronaldo completed a much more successful week for Juve as he unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top left corner 20 minutes from time.“I told the lads, this was a game we had to win, it didn’t matter how well or badly we played,” said Allegri. “The goal was a moment of magic from an extraordinary player and it’s something kids will try to copy in the schoolyard.”An own goal by Fiorentina goalkeeper Alban Lafont allowed Torino to make it five games without defeat following a 1-1 draw, while Atalanta collected a second win on the trot as they beat promoted Parma 3-0.Second-place Napoli can return to within four points of Juve on Sunday when they host Roma, and Inter Milan will bid for a sixth straight league victory at Lazio on Monday.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Players not sabotaging my efforts – Mourinho

first_img0Shares0000Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho does not believe his criticism of players is leading them to deliberately play badly © AFP / Glyn KIRKMANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Dec 4 – Jose Mourinho insists his Manchester United players are giving their maximum effort despite repeated criticism by him of their performances.The 55-year-old United manager claimed any accusation his players were underperforming because they did not like him would be “dishonest”. Mourinho has been withering in his assessment of United’s performances in their past two league matches, saying his players lacked “heart” after they were held 0-0 at home by Crystal Palace on November 24.He then suggested there were not enough “mad dogs” in his team following last Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Southampton.None of United’s players spoke to the media after the match at St Mary’s Stadium.Yet there have been reports of dressing room disharmony, with Mourinho reportedly comparing France midfielder Paul Pogba to a “virus” in an angry rant at Southampton.Mourinho has declined to comment on the latest reports of a fall-out with Pogba, and would not even by drawn on whether he thought the midfielder had played poorly at Southampton.“Are you asking or saying? I am not going to analyse the performance individually,” he said.“The names I gave at Southampton were the names that I chose in a positive way who showed that desire, that fighting spirit, that anger, that pride.”– ‘Calling the player dishonest’ –Mourinho, though, would not accept his players were underperforming deliberately.“I am not agreeing with you or saying that some players don’t want to give the maximum,” he said.“I don’t share that view.”Speaking more generally, he suggested players are professional enough to continue to give their best even if they do not get on with the manager.“If you think a player only plays when, in your words, he is behind the manager, what I have to call these players -– or, in this case, what you are calling them –- is dishonest,” said Mourinho.“A football player is paid -– and very well paid -– to be a football professional.“What is that? It is to train every day to his limits, to play every game to his limits, is to behave socially according to the nature of his job, is to respect the millions of fans around the world and to respect the club.“One thing is to perform well and not so well, another thing is to be a football professional.“If you say that a player plays well or bad because of how good a manager is, you are calling the player dishonest.”He also criticised pundits such as former United star Rio Ferdinand who have suggested this season that there may be a player mutiny at Old Trafford.“When pundits, who were professional players, say that this player is not playing for the manager, did they do that when they were players? Were they dishonest players?” said Mourinho.“If they were, they shouldn’t be in front of a camera speaking to millions of people.“You analyse a player by asking: ‘Is he performing, yes or no?’ You shouldn’t go in that direction because you are calling the players dishonest.“Do you believe a player scores in his own goal and then runs and celebrates, saying: ‘I scored in my own goal because I don’t like the manager’? Do you believe in that? I don’t believe in that.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more