Coppa: Ronaldo brace overturns Inter

Cristiano Ronaldo converted a penalty and pounced on an Inter howler to give Juventus a precious 2-1 first leg away win in the Coppa Italia semi-final.

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These sides met in Serie A just 16 days ago, the Nerazzurri winning 2-0 at San Siro, but this was the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final, with the decider in Turin on February 9. Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi were suspended, with the visitors missing Paulo Dybala and Aaron Ramsey.

Inter took the lead with a well-worked team move, as Nicolò Barella got down the right and squared the pass for Lautaro Martinez, who managed to get in front of Matthijs de Ligt to squirm the finish under Gigi Buffon. It was the perfect way for the striker to celebrate becoming a father with the birth of Nina just yesterday.

Juventus were awarded a penalty following a VAR on-field review for a slight Ashley Young tug on Juan Cuadrado’s arm, but the Federico Bernardeschi cross was already going a long way off target, as well as it being minimal contact. Cristiano Ronaldo converted by blasting into the roof of the net.

Inter then gifted the second goal to the Bianconeri with a double howler. Alessandro Bastoni and Samir Handanovic did not communicate, the goalkeeper came outside the box, but Cristiano Ronaldo pounced on the defender to steal the ball and place a snooker shot in off the inside of the far post of the empty net.

Arturo Vidal was booked, partly for the tackle on Ronaldo and partly shouting at the referee, so he will be suspended for the second leg.

Young’s effort was fingertipped over and a deflected Bernardeschi strike was pushed round the near post, but when Rodrigo Bentancur and the Juve defence almost replicated the earlier Inter howler, Alexis Sanchez was denied by a Merih Demiral goal-line clearance.

It was Buffon’s 1,100th professional game at club and international level and his first as a 43-year-old, yet he made a sensational save to parry from Matteo Darmian one-on-one.

Barella also turned a scissor-kick volley just wide, and Christian Eriksen couldn’t make the most of yet another error in the Juve final third.

Alexis Sanchez was booked in stoppages for a lunge on Federico Chiesa and he too will be suspended for the second leg.

Inter 1-2 Juventus

Lautaro Martinez 9 (I), Ronaldo pen 26, 35 (J)

Inter: Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni (Pinamonti 85); Darmian, Barella, Brozovic (Sensi 85), Vidal (Eriksen 73), Young (Perisic 66); Lautaro Martinez, Alexis Sanchez

Juventus: Buffon; Cuadrado, Demiral, De Ligt, Alex Sandro; McKennie (Chiellini 89), Bentancur (Arthur 76), Rabiot, Bernardeschi (Danilo 69), Ronaldo (Morata 76), Kulusevski (Chiesa 89)

Ref: Calvarese

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