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Soccer: Ronaldo scores hat-trick; PSG stumble

March 15, 2021 08:58 IST
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Ronaldo's first-half treble fires Juventus to Cagliari win

Cristiano Ronaldo

IMAGE: Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo in action with Cagliari's Alessio Cragno. Photograph: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a perfect hat-trick inside 32 minutes as Juventus bounced back from their midweek Champions League exit by beating Cagliari 3-1 away in Serie A on Sunday.

The 36-year-old striker found the net with a header, a right-footed penalty and a left-foot shot and celebrated by pointing to his ear in an apparent response to recent criticism.

 

The Italian champions and their Portuguese talisman were under pressure to perform after suffering a Champions League last-16 elimination against Porto on Tuesday.

They enjoyed a comfortable win despite Giovanni Simeone's second-half strike for the hosts and are now third with 55 points, 10 behind leaders Inter Milan with a game in hand.

Ronaldo declined to give a post-match interview when asked at full-time and Juve captain Giorgio Chiellini faced the cameras instead.

"Our strength has always been to respond on the pitch and we did that today, Cristiano above all," he told Sky Italia.

"We played like Juve and as a team, with our strengths and weaknesses. But with this main ingredient we can finish the season well, we'll see where we are by mid-May."

It was Cagliari coach Leonardo Semplici’s first defeat since taking over in February and left his side in 17th place on 22 points, two clear of the relegation zone.

Ronaldo came in for widespread criticism and was linked by the media with a possible close-season departure from Juve after his disappointing display against Porto, who knocked the Turin club out of Europe on away goals following a 4-4 aggregate draw.

But the Portuguese forward was fired up for the trip to the Sardegna Arena and quickly made his mark by powering in a header from a corner after 10 minutes, a goal that means he has now scored in all 18 stadiums he has visited in Serie A.

Ronaldo was booked for catching goalkeeper Alessio Cragno in the face with a high boot as they both went for a cross, and the striker was then brought down in the box by the keeper and smashed home the resulting penalty in the 25th minute.

He soon had his third goal as he performed a trademark step-over before hammering a shot past Cragno to mark the second fastest hat-trick of his career, after the treble he scored in 20 minutes for Real Madrid against Espanyol in September 2015.

Cagliari pulled a goal back in the second half when Simeone fired in a low shot and Ronaldo had a big chance to score his fourth with the last kick of the game when one-on-one with Cragno but the keeper denied him with an excellent block.

PSG stumble to home loss against Nantes, miss out on top spot

PSG

IMAGE: Paris St Germain's Julian Draxler celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Paris St Germain missed an opportunity to move top of the Ligue 1 standings when they suffered an embarrassing 2-1 home defeat against strugglers Nantes on Sunday.

Nantes' Randal Kolo Muani cancelled out Julian Draxler's first-half opener after a Kylian Mbappe blunder before Moses Simon scored in the 71st minute to stun the champions.

After their seventh league defeat of the season - the fourth at the Parc des Princes - PSG are second with 60 points from 29 games, three behind Lille who drew 0-0 at AS Monaco as none of the top four teams won at the weekend.

The result lifted relegation-threatened Nantes to 18th place on 27 points, a point below Lorient and the safety zone.

Four days after a lacklustre display in a Champions League draw with Barcelona in the last-16, where they progressed due to a big first-leg lead, PSG struggled again but Draxler opened the scoring three minutes from the break with a low shot.

Shortly before the hour, Nantes deservedly equalised as a poor pass by Mbappe virtually set up Kolo Muani, who beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas from close range.

After a brief discussion with PSG sports director Leonardo, coach Mauricio Pochettino replaced Angel Di Maria with Leandro Paredes after 62 minutes and went towards the dressing room with the Argentine before coming back to the bench.

In the 71st minute, Kolo Muani set up Simon, who rifled home to put the visitors ahead.

It finally spurred PSG into action, but Alban Laffont made a couple of good saves to preserve Nantes's advantage until the final whistle.

Earlier, Lille's seven-game winning streak on the road ended when they failed to break the deadlock at Monaco in a 0-0 encounter at Louis II.

Monaco and Lille failed to create decent chances, until Stevan Jovetic was denied by Lille keeper Mike Maignan's superb save in stoppage time.

Monaco are fourth on 56 points, four behind PSG and third-placed Olympique Lyonnais, who were held to a 1-1 draw at Stade de Reims on Friday.

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Source: REUTERS
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