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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football Extras: Juve's Ronaldo scores for fifth game in a row...

Football Extras: Juve's Ronaldo scores for fifth game in a row...

December 02, 2018 12:50 IST

News of all that's transpired on and off the football field

Juventus FC's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Fiorentina on Saturday

IMAGE: Juventus FC's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Fiorentina on Saturday. Photograph: Juventus FC/Twitter

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the fifth league game in a row to complete a 3-0 win for the unbeaten Serie A leaders away to Fiorentina on Saturday.

Fiorentina, who had drawn their previous five games, were made to pay for missing their chances as Juventus, who have dropped only two points in their first 14 games, moved on to 40 points, 11 ahead of second-placed Napoli.

Midfielder Rodrigo Betancur gave Juventus the lead in the 31st minute as he played a one-two with Paulo Dybala, burst into the penalty area and placed a low shot wide of Alban Lafont.

 

Marco Benassi and Vitor Hugo both missed good chances for Fiorentina after the re-start and Wojciech Szczesny saved a Federico Chiesa half-volley.

Just as Fiorentina threatened to level, defender Giorgio Chiellini increased Juve's lead with a scrappy goal.

Lafont got a hand to Chiellini’s volley, the ball bounced and the backspin took it into the net, evading two other players. Almost inevitably, Ronaldo got on the scoresheet with an emphatic penalty after Edimilson Fernandes handled, taking his tally to 10 in the league and making him joint top-scorer with Genoa's Krzysztof Piatek.

"This is a team of great champions and great men who have great character, it's the desire to win that makes the difference," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

"The players are ready to run and chase, to make themselves available to their team mates."

Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli accepted that his team were let down by their finishing as they dropped to twelfth.

"It's a pity we didn’t finish off any of the many chances that we created, something which was not easy to do against great opponents," he said.

"The result is deceptive, I'm especially sorry we conceded the first goal and did not take advantage of dangerous situations in the second half."

Gnabry double steers troubled Bayern past Werder Bremen

Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry scored twice to help beat his former club Werder Bremen 2-1 on Saturday as the embattled champions notched up their first win in four Bundesliga matches and moved up to third place.

Gnabry, who briefly played for Werder before joining Bayern in 2017, opened the scoring after 20 minutes, with the visitors, who saw the return of winger Kingsley Coman after an injury at the start of the season, missing several early chances.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac fielded almost the same team that beat Benfica Lisbon 5-1 in midweek to advance to the Champions League knockout stage, with Gnabry replacing the injured Arjen Robben.

But, as in the previous three league matches where Bayern scored first, they quickly conceded, with Yuya Osako beating a defender and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to the ball to head the equaliser in the 33rd.

Gnabry, however, intercepted a Thomas Mueller cutback to score the winner five minutes into the second half as Bayern climbed to third on 24 points, nine behind leaders Borussia Dortmund who beat Freiburg 2-0.

The result will ease some of the pressure on the coach, players and club bosses after dissatisfaction with the current state of the team was voiced by club members during Friday's annual general assembly.

"This victory is a huge relief for us and improves the atmosphere and our confidence," Gnabry told reporters.

"Of course we know the standings so three points are very important for us."

Bayern bosses have backed Kovac despite reportedly growing opposition in the changing room of success-spoilt Bayern, who have won the last six league titles.

"We want to win every match until Christmas," Kovac said.

"We played an extremely good game and we dominated it in terms of skills, tactics and power."

"If there is one thing to criticise it is our conversion rate. I counted six or seven other chances that should have been goals."

The Croatian, whose team were far from impressive, did, however, have some more good news with Thiago Alcantara, another long-time injury absence, making his comeback as well.

River Plate reject Libertadores final in Madrid

The troubled Copa Libertadores final between Argentina's two biggest clubs ran into more problems on Saturday when River Plate said they rejected the decision to face Boca Juniors in Madrid in the postponed second leg.

In the latest twist to the saga, River, the home team, said it was "incomprehensible" that the fixture should be played outside Argentina, although the club stopped short of saying they would refuse to play.

The hugely-anticipated match at River Plate's Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires was called off on November 24 after the Boca team bus was attacked with stones and bottles as it approached the ground.

Several players were hit by shattered glass and some were affected by tear gas or pepper spray.

The match was rescheduled for the following day but was again postponed. The first leg in Boca's stadium had ended 2-2 one week earlier.

On Thursday the South American Football Confederation CONMEBOL announced the decision to move the game to Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium on Dec. 9.

"River Plate reject the change of venue," the club said in a statement, adding that moving the game to Madrid "adversely affects those who bought tickets and also upsets the idea of equal conditions by taking away home advantage".

However, River did not say what action they would take if CONMEBOL stood by its decision.

River were fined $400,000 for the incidents and ordered to play their next two home matches in South American club competition behind closed doors. However, Boca have said they will appeal against the decision which they consider too lenient.

CONMEBOL ignored the appeals on Saturday and released information on ticket sales but although each team have been allocated 25,000, they must sell most of that allowance to fans outside Argentina.

"For security reasons local authorities have decided to give each team 5,000 tickets to sell to their fans in Argentina," CONMEBOL said.

The other 20,000 could be sold only to fans living abroad, CONMEBOL said in a statement. The teams must provide lists of the 5,000 names who buy the Argentina allowance.

Boca themselves were thrown out of the Libertadores in 2015 after River players were attacked with pepper spray by fans at halftime during the second leg of a knockout tie at the Bombonera stadium. Boca say they want the same standards to apply to River.

River said the attack on the bus happened outside the area which was considered the club's responsibility.

"The responsibility for the failure of the security operation was openly accepted by the highest authorities of the state," it said.

"It's incomprehensible that the most important fixture in Argentine football cannot take place in the country which is hosting the G20.

"Argentine football as a whole... cannot allow a handful of thugs to stop the Superclasico from taking place in our country."

It is the first time that the two clubs have met in the final of the competition, which is the South American equivalent of the Champions League.

From next season onwards, the final will be played in a single match at a neutral venue -- a decision which CONMEBOL had already taken before last month's trouble.

Serie B leaders Palermo sold for 10 euros

Italian Serie B leaders Palermo have been sold to an unnamed London-based company for the symbolic price of 10 euros, club owner Maurizio Zamparini said on Saturday.

The charismatic Zamparini has been president of the club since 2002 and has employed more than 40 coaches during that time.

"Thinking only of the future of the company and the supporters of Palermo, I have, with a lump in my throat, signed my exit from the club," said the 77-year-old in a letter on the club's website.

"The new London-based owners will put into action the construction of the stadium and training ground.

"Every time I go down to Palermo, I feel the affection and gratitude of the people of Palermo," he said, adding that he was profoundly sad. Last year, a takeover bid for the Sicilian club from U.S.-born businessman Paul Baccaglini was rejected by Zamparini, more then four months after it was announced that terms had been agreed for the deal.

Languishing in Serie B when Zamparini took over in 2002, pink-shirted Palermo won promotion in 2003-04 as they returned to the top flight after a more than 30-year wait.

In Zamparini’s first few years they routinely finished in the top half of the table, played in the UEFA Cup several times and had four players in Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad.

Players such as Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani and Argentine pair Paulo Dybala and Javier Pastore played at the club early in their careers. Palermo's fortunes faded after that and they were relegated in 2013 but returned to the top flight at the first attempt.

They narrowly avoided another relegation in 2016 after an extraordinary season in which the club employed seven different coaches, two of them twice, but finally went down in 2016/17.

Palermo currently have a two-point lead over Pescara at the top of Serie B.

Bruno Tedino was left with the dubious honour of being Zamparini’s last sacking when he was dismissed in September after five matches. He was replaced by Roberto Stellone –- who in turn had been dismissed the previous June to make way for Tedino. 

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