Cristiano Ronaldo scores controversial late penalty as Juventus salvage draw at Milan in Coppa Italia semi-final
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a controversial late penalty to help Juventus salvage a 1-1 draw at 10-man AC Milan in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Thursday.
Ante Rebic’s volley gave the hosts a deserved lead after 61 minutes, following a string of excellent saves from veteran Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
But Stefano Pioli’s side were left a man down for the final 18 minutes when defender Theo Hernandez was shown a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Paulo Dybala.
Juventus were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes following a Video Assistant Referee review, which showed that a Ronaldo scissor kick had struck the arm of Milan defender Davide Calabria.
The Portuguese forward smashed the spot-kick into the roof of the net to earn his side a draw ahead of the second leg in Turin on March 4.
Milan, though, will be without 38-year-old attacker Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the return fixture because of suspension after the Swede picked up his second yellow card of the competition. Midfielder Samuel Castillejo is also suspended for the decider, as is Hernandez.
Rossoneri manager Stefano Pioli was far from happy with the late penalty call. “Just before the penalty incident there was a foul on Ibra that wasn’t given,” he said. “The play wouldn’t have continued if the referee had intervened then. I am happy with the performance but disappointed with the result.
“We will be missing many players in the return leg, we will need a huge performance.”
There was heightened excitement at San Siro as it was the first time Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo had faced off against each other since 2015, when Paris Saint-Germain played Real Madrid.
Nearly 73,000 spectators were present – a record for an Italian Cup semi-final – but were denied the chance of seeing Ibrahimovic on the scoresheet, despite the veteran going close on several occasions.
Both teams came into the match after disappointing results in Serie A. Juventus lost to Hellas Verona and were overtaken by Inter Milan at the top of the table, after they fought back from 2-0 down to beat Milan in the derby clash on Sunday.
Milan, though, were lively from the start and had two chances in the opening two minutes, with Franck Kessie firing narrowly wide moments after Ibrahimovic had headed over the bar.
Juventus appeared sluggish and had to wait until the 36th minute for its first shot on target. Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma could not keep hold of Juan Cuadrado’s shot but Kessie cleared the danger.
Ibrahimovic again went close on the hour but Buffon tipped his effort round the post.
Milan broke the deadlock two minutes later when Rebic scuffed a Castillejo cross into the bottom corner.
Milan went down to 10 men shortly after when Hernandez was shown his second yellow card. And worse was to come as Ronaldo’s scissor-kick volley hit Calabria on the arm from point-blank range and the referee awarded a penalty after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor.
Ronaldo kept his cool to convert. The Juventus forward has scored in 13 of his past 14 matches in all competitions.
“He is an incredible champion, playing with him is one of the reasons I came back,” said Buffon, who returned to Juventus in the summer after a year in France with Paris Saint-Germain.
Buffon walked out of San Siro with Daniel Maldini’s shirt which had been given to him by the young midfielder’s father, Paolo Maldini – who Buffon played against on many an occasion and was teammates with on the Italian national team.
The 42-year-old Buffon is becoming used to playing against the sons of former opponents. “In my collection I have [Enrico] Chiesa and son, [Lilian] Thuram and son, [George] Weah and son, and now Maldini and son. I’m waiting for their grandchildren,” Buffon said with a smile.
In the other tie, Napoli are leading 1-0 against Inter after Wednesday’s first leg at the San Siro, with the return match taking place on March 5.