February 25, 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo, Erling Haaland inspire Juventus and Borussia Dortmund

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to fire Juventus to a 2-1 comeback win over Inter Milan in a hard-fought Coppa Italia semi-final first-leg clash at San Siro on Tuesday.

Lautaro Martinez gave the home side an early lead but Ronaldo replied with a penalty before pouncing on a defensive mix-up to put the Turin club in front before half-time.

Inter, without suspended top scorer Romelu Lukaku, pushed for an equaliser but could not find a way past 43-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who produced a superb save to deny Matteo Darmian on the 1,100th senior appearance of his career for club and country.

Nine players were booked in a fiery encounter as Andrea Pirlo’s side earned revenge for their 2-0 Serie A defeat in this fixture, known as the ‘Derby of Italy’, last month.

Juventus, who finished as runners-up last year, host the second leg in Turin on February 9 and the winner will face Napoli or Atalanta in the final.

Antonio Conte was without influential wing-back Achraf Hakimi as well as Lukaku, yet Martinez squeezed a finish past Buffon after nine minutes to give the hosts a perfect start.

But Ashley Young’s tug on Juan Cuadrado resulted in a penalty following a VAR review, which Ronaldo smashed into the roof of the net with 26 minutes on the clock.

The striker soon grabbed his second by pouncing on some hesitation between Samir Handanovic and Alessandro Bastoni on the edge of the box, pinching the ball and finishing into an unguarded net (35).

Inter pushed forward after the break, but they were denied by heroic last-ditch defending as Alexis Sanchez’s shot was cleared off the line by Merih Demiral, before Buffon showed sharp reflexes to save Darmian’s effort to preserve Juve’s advantage.

Haaland fires Dortmund to quarter-finals

Erling Haaland capped a dramatic night for Borussia Dortmund against Paderborn

Elsewhere, Erling Haaland struck the decisive goal in extra-time as Borussia Dortmund sealed a 3-2 win at home to Paderborn to reach the German Cup quarter-finals.

Early goals from Emre Can and Jadon Sancho looked to be sending Dortmund through with ease but Julian Justvan pulled a goal back for second division Paderborn in the 79th minute.

Haaland thought he had clinched victory for Dortmund when he scored in stoppage time but in a remarkable turn of events the goal was ruled out after a VAR review for an earlier foul in the Dortmund area, leading to a penalty for Paderborn.

Prince Osei Owusu slotted from the spot in the seventh minute of stoppage time to force the extra period.

But despite the dramatic fightback, Haaland promptly restored Dortmund’s lead in the fifth minute of extra-time and this time there was no sting in the tail.

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