Continuing his rampant goal-scoring form, Cristiano Ronaldo netted a last-gasp penalty to gift Juventus a 1-1 draw against 10-man AC Milan in their first leg Coppa Italia semi-final at the San Siro on Thursday.
The Portuguese forward’s scissor kick effort in the last minute, struck the arm of Davide Calabria who was looking the other way, to earn the spot-kick, awarded after a VAR check. Ronaldo, who turned 35 last week, made it 35 goals in 35 games for club and country this term, as he rifled a spot-kick home in added time.
Prior to the late drama, Milan had made the breakthrough just after the hour mark. This, after veteran Gianluigi Buffon thwarted the hosts’ waves of attacks on several occasions. Ante Rebic finally scored for them before Theo Hernandez was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 71st minute.
Milan were made to rue their next foray of missed chances, with a tricky task in Turin awaiting them on March 4. There, Milan would need anything but a win to reach the final while The Old Lady have a huge table-topping clash with Inter and a prior Champions League last 16 first-leg tie in Lyon, among a jam-packed fixture list ahead of the return Coppa Italia clash.
But on Thursday night, Juve were often sluggish, with the backline giving sniffs to Franck Kessie and Rebic, both men trying their luck from range in a bright Milan opening while Calabria forced a smart reflex save from Buffon. The returning Zlatan Ibrahimović was booked for a high-arm on Matthijs de Ligt with Gianluigi Donnarumma making a great save from Juan Cuadrado down to his right.
The start to the second half was not any different for the visitors. Juve were under the pump and looked to concede before Buffon made himself big to deny Rebic after he attempted to get on top of an Ibrahimović flick-on. Buffon also made fine stops to keep out Ibrahimović’s angled drive and Hernández’s well-struck long-range attempt, only for the inevitable to come to fruition in the 61st minute.
Samu Castillejo floated a cross to the back post as he turned in Samu Castillejo’s cross after a spell of pressure which told. Cuadrado was denied a penalty despite copping an arm in the face from Rebic in the area, but Milan were not so lucky when Hernandez clattered Paulo Dybala to earn a second yellow.
Juve made the numerical advantage count in the closing stages when Calabria was harshly punished for handball from Ronaldo’s acrobatic volley, allowing the in-form 35-year-old to draw his team level with a classic ‘Ronaldo’ finish from the spot. The two will go at it one more time in the season’s competition, with the winner here finding out who they will face between Napoli and Inter a day later on March 5, in the final which will be staged at the Stadio Olimpico on May 13.