NEWS
Wednesday September 19 2018
CL: Ronaldo red can't stop Juve

Cristiano Ronaldo was very harshly sent off, yet Juventus conquered Valencia 2-0 with a pair of Miralem Pjanic penalties and Wojciech Szczesny’s save.

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The Bianconeri set their stall out this season to win the Champions League for the first time since 1996 and paid over €100m to get Cristiano Ronaldo for that purpose. Max Allegri made some changes, as Paulo Dybala, Andrea Barzagli and Mattia De Sciglio were carrying knocks. Valencia were back in the competition after a two-season absence and missed key players Geoffrey Kondogbia, Francis Coquelin and Ezequiel Garay.

It was a very aggressive start from the hosts, but Juve emerged and Mario Mandzukic volleyed over from close range on a Cristiano Ronaldo knock-down.

Sami Khedira did even worse with a shocking miss, firing over when completely unmarked, again set up by Federico Bernardeschi, while Valencia threw defensive bodies in the way to deny Blaise Matuidi at the end of a chaotic move.

However, Khedira went off injured moments later, replaced by Emre Can just 22 minutes into the game.

The match took a bizarre twist when Ronaldo clashed with ex-Inter defender Jeison Murillo and seemed to either tug the Colombian’s (very short) hair or pat him on the back of the head. Either way, there was very little in it, but the referee spoke to his goal-line assistant and opted for a straight red. Ronaldo was absolutely distraught, burst into tears and tried to argue his case, but had to walk off for his first ever Champions League dismissal.

Valencia suddenly had more belief and Michy Batshuayi turned Giorgio Chiellini inside out before stinging Wojciech Szcsesny’s gloves at the near post.

However, Joao Cancelo hit the crossbar and as he tried to get on the rebound was felled by a very high and clumsy Parejo tackle for a penalty. Miralem Pjanic stepped up and successfully converted to give 10-man Juve the advantage.

After the restart, Murillo was on the wrong end of the referee’s decision, wrestling Leonardo Bonucci to the ground for a second Juventus penalty. Pjanic kept his cool again to convert and double their lead.

Szczesny got down to push a Soler effort round the far post and smothered another long-range shot from the same player, while Kevin Gameiro skimmed the woodwork from one of many corners.

Douglas Costa came off the bench and had a good chance on the counter, but he was tackled by Gabriel Paulista just as he was pulling the trigger and sustained an injury. The Brazilian was carried off the field by two medics.

With the last kick of the game, the referee awarded another dubious penalty for Daniele Rugani’s jump with arm slightly raised on Gabriel Paulista. However, Szczesny parried the Parejo penalty to deny Valencia even a consolation.

Valencia 0-2 Juventus

Pjanic pens 44, 50 (J)

Valencia: Neto; Ruben Vezo (Cheryshev 57), Murillo, Gabriel Paulista, Gaya; Soler, Parejo, Wass, Goncalo Guedes (Gameiro 70); Rodrigo, Batshuayi (Santi Mina 70)

Juventus: Szczesny; Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Khedira (Emre Can 22), Pjanic (Douglas Costa 66) (Rugani 89), Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Mandzukic, Ronaldo

Ref: Brych (GER)

Sent off: Ronaldo 29 (J)

Saved penalty: Parejo 96 (V)

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