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Ronaldo powers Juventus to ninth straight Serie A title

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Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (4thL) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Sampdoria played behind closed doors at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on July 26, 2020. AFP

Milan, Italy (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo powered Juventus to their ninth straight Serie A title on Sunday in a 2-0 win over Sampdoria that put them over the line with two matches to spare.

Ronaldo opened the scoring deep into first half stoppage time in Turin and then had a hand in Federico Bernardeschi netting the second after 66 minutes.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner missed a late penalty but Maurizio Sarri’s side moved seven points ahead of second-placed Inter Milan to seal a 36th ‘Scudetto’.

The title is Sarri’s first and extends a record run which Antonio Conte started with three titles from 2012 and Massimiliano Allegri continued with the following five.

Sarri’s team had missed the chance to wrap up the title on Thursday when the ‘Old Lady’ of Italian football fell to a 2-1 defeat at Udinese.

But they made no mistake at the Allianz Stadium despite being pushed hard by Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria, one of the most in-form teams since the return of Serie A from the three-month coronavirus lockdown.

“It is the most beautiful success, even the most difficult because we wanted it and suffered,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci.

“We started on a new path with a lot of scepticism around us, we gave everything, despite some slip-ups.

“It was a complicated year for everyone in the world, it was difficult to return after so many months not playing.”

Despite his 35 years Ronaldo shrugged off the quick succession of matches played in hot summer weather after the lockdown, bringing his tally to 31 this season.

The Portuguese striker has scored 10 goals since football returned in Italy on June 20, more than any other player in Europe.

He also matched former Italy World Cup winner Felice Borel, who was the last player to score 31 goals for Juventus in the 1933-34 season.

But he remains three goals behind Serie A’s leading scorer Ciro Immobile, who scored a hat-trick earlier in Lazio’s 5-1 win over Hellas Verona.

“Delighted for the second consecutive championship and to continue building the history of this great and splendid club,” said Ronaldo on Instagram.

“This title is dedicated to all Juventus fans, in particular to those who have suffered and are suffering from the pandemic that has taken us all by surprise by overturning the world.

 

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