Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Ronaldo still scoreless as Juventus extend perfect start

Published:Sunday | September 2, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Juventus' Mario Mandzukic (left) celebrates after scoring during the Serie A football match between Parma and Juventus at the Tardini Stadium, Italy, yesterday.

ROME (AP):

Cristiano Ronaldo is still scoreless after three matches with Juventus.

Juventus, however, are doing just fine.

Mario Mandzukic scored one and set up another with a back-heel pass as the Bianconeri won at promoted Parma 2-1 yesterday to remain perfect.

With Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa in attendance at Parma's Ennio Tardini Stadium, the closest Ronaldo came to scoring was with a header off a corner that went just wide midway through the first half. The Portugal international was also visibly upset when Mandzukic prevented him from connecting on a volley early on by getting there first - prompting an apology from Mandzukic.

Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe smothered several more chances involving Ronaldo.

Ronaldo left Real Madrid in the off season in a Serie A-record €112 million (then US$132 million) transfer, but he is still figuring out how to score in a league known for its defensive qualities. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner also didn't score in Real Madrid's opening three Spanish league matches last season - although he did score in other competitions for Madrid during that spell.

Mandzukic put Juventus ahead two minutes in with an easy tap in following a failed clearance, but it wasn't straightforward for the visitors as Parma began to threaten consistently.

Parma's Leo Stulac struck a free kick off the crossbar and former Arsenal and Roma forward Gervinho equalised from close range after the half-hour mark.

Blaise Matuidi restored Juve's lead in the 58th, taking a delightful back-heel assist from Mandzukic inside the area before blasting in from a sharp angle.

Napoli and Spal, who are also perfect, play today. Napoli visit Sampdoria and Spal travel to Torino.

 

NINJA POWER

 

When Radja Nainggolan signed with Inter Milan in June, coach Luciano Spalletti said he would give the underachieving squad the 'boost' it needed.

The Belgian midfielder, who is nicknamed 'Ninja', fulfilled Spalletti's wishes in Inter's 3-0 win at Bologna, scoring the opener on debut to send the Nerazzurri on their way to their first Serie A victory of the season.

Substitute Antonio Candreva added another by finishing off a counterattack following a pass from Ivan Perisic.

Perisic then found the target himself three minutes later, faking out a defender by pretending to shoot with his left foot then firing in with his right boot.