Soccer: Ronaldo under fire after Juve exit Champions League (6)

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(ANSA) – ROME, MAR 10 – Portugal great Cristiano Ronaldo has
come under fire after Juventus exited the Champions League in
the last 16 despite beating 10-man Porto 3-2 in the return leg
in Turin on Tuesday.
    The visitors progressed to the quarter-finals on away goals
after the first leg ended 2-1 to them.
    Ronaldo not only failed to score but he also turned and hopped
while standing in the wall for Sergio Oliveira’s extra-time
free-kick, helping create the hole through which the ball passed
for the crucial goal.
    Former Juve coach Fabio Capello was among those to criticise
Ronaldo for failing to hold the wall in the post-match analysis.
    Another analyst said “it wasn’t CR7 tonight, but CR 3 1/2”.
    Oliveira had scored a first-half penalty to set Juve a massive
    But they looked to have taken the upper hand after the break,
with Federico Chiesa scoring twice and Porto striker Mehdi
Taremi getting sent off after petulantly kicking the ball away
following a previous yellow.
    There were no more goals within regulation time though an
Oliveira’s free-kick left Juve again needing two goals to go
    Adrien Rabiot headed in one but the other did not arrive and the
Turin giants crashed out of the competition in the first
knock-out round for the second consecutive season.
    Despite their glittering domestic trophy cabinet of 36 scudetti,
including the last nine straight, the Bianconeri have only won
two European titles, in 1985, a match against LIverpool marred
by the Heysel tragedy that killed 39 Juve fans, and 1996, in a
shoot-out against Ajax.
    Ronaldo was hired from Real Madrid for 100 million euros three
years ago to help bring some of the continental glory he had
regularly enjoyed with Los Merengues.
    Ronadlo, 36, who lifted Europe’s premier club trophy four times
with Real and once before with Man Utd, was heralded as the
X-Factor needed to end Juve’s run of five final losses.
    The latest disappointing display by the record CL scorer and
five time Ballon d’Or was highlighted by the implacable Italian
sports press, with top daily Gazzetta dello Sport headlining
Another Juve Disaster and rating the Portugal legend the worst
player on the field.
    Corriere dello Sport, the second biggest daily, went even
further, headlining Betrayed by Ronaldo.
    Juve coach Andrea Pirlo, however, said “I leave Ronaldo’s rating
to journalists but for me he’s always seven (out of 10), like
his shirt number”.
    Receiving a ‘Golden Tapir’ booby prize for the defeat from
Italy’s top satirical TV show, his second of the season after a
poor start to the campaign, Pirlo added that he hoped he would “eat the Colomba cake” meaning last at least till Easter, just
as he had eaten the panettone Xmas cake despite rumours he might
be on the way out.
    Last year Juve’s exit to Lyon in the CL last 16, also on goal
difference, ultimately cost then coach Maurizio Sarri his job.
    Juve’s stock fell 8% on the Milan stock exchange Wednesday.


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