Cristiano Ronaldo wins a free kick on the edge of the penalty box in his Serie A debut for Juventus. (Getty)
Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in Italy was supposed to deepen the divide between Juventus and the rest of Serie A. On the 2018-19 season’s opening weekend, for 92 minutes, it did anything but.
But Juventus, as it has done so many times over the years, came from behind to steal three points. It beat Chievo Verona 3-2 despite entering the 75th minute down 2-1.
Chievo is one of the minnows on which Ronaldo was expected to feast. The Portuguese superstar was held scoreless. But Juve’s many other stars picked up the slack.
Ronaldo appeared to have played a role in a Juventus winner in the waning minutes of the 90. After a video review, however, he was ruled to have committed a foul seconds before Mario Mandzukic had the ball over the line, and the goal was disallowed.
But Federico Bernardeschi won the game in stoppage time to lift Juve out of what would have been an early-season hole.
Sami Khedira had put the Bianconeri ahead early. Goals from Mariusz Stepinski and Emanuele Giaccherini, the latter of which came from the penalty spot, appeared to have turned the game on its head. But Juve flipped it back upright via an own goal and Bernardeschi’s winner.
Ronaldo was clearly the most talented player on the field, as you’d expect him to be. But he couldn’t quite find his debut goal.
In the first half, he dragged a first-time shot from the top of the penalty box just by the far post. Juan Cuadrado had provided him with a square ball in space.
In the second half, Ronaldo created for himself. He spun inside from the left, and, with his momentum almost taking him away from goal, picked out the far corner. His curling shot was heading for the side netting. But Chievo’s goalkeeper, Stefano Sorrentino, denied him with a stunning save:
With the game at 2-2, Ronaldo won a free kick right on the edge of the box. In trademark fashion, he stepped up to it and tested Sorrentino again, but the keeper was up to the task.
Ronaldo was then involved in what could have been the winner. He challenged for a cross at the near post. He couldn’t re-direct it on frame, but he and a Chievo defender collided with Sorrentino. With Sorrentino prone on the ground, Mario Mandzukic headed home what appeared to be the winner. VAR overturned the call on the field.
But Bernardeschi rendered Ronaldo’s near misses irrelevant. His debut, all in all, was a positive and promising one.
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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.