Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a record-equalling 11th consecutive Serie A game in his 1,000th professional match as Juventus extended their league lead on Saturday with a 2-1 win over basement club SPAL.
The 35-year-old tapped in six minutes before the break to equal the mark held by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season for Juventus, including 16 in his current run of 11 matches.
Aaron Ramsey added a second after an hour, before Andrea Petagna pulled one back from the spot for SPAL, amid controversy as the penalty was awarded following a VAR review despite the pitchside monitor not working.
It got Juventus back to winning ways away from home after consecutive defeats against Napoli and Hellas Verona, and ahead of next week’s trip to French club Lyon in the Champions League last 16, first leg.
Maurizio Sarri’s side opened up a four-point lead on second-placed Lazio who travel to Genoa on Sunday.
Inter Milan are six points behind the champions before their game at home against Sampdoria.
“These were very difficult matches and in the last few years we had never won here,” said Sarri.
“The test was to collect the three points, then from tomorrow morning we will study Lyon thoroughly.
“The goal is the championship. The Champions League is a dream, even if in life it is always nice to achieve dreams.”
Ronaldo had an early goal ruled offside but made no mistake when running onto Juan Cuadrado’s low cross after Ramsey’s ball forward.
The Portuguese forward drew level with Sampdoria forward Quagliarella, who in January 2019 equalled the mark previously achieved by Batistuta in 1994-1995 for Fiorentina.
Both Italian Quagliarella and Argentine Batistuta went on to finish the seasons as the Serie A top scorer after their feat, with both scoring 26 goals in total.
Ronaldo has 21 goals in Serie A this season, five behind leading scorer Ciro Immobile.
Milan held in Tuscany
Ramsey doubled Juve’s lead on the hour mark, latching onto Paulo Dybala’s pass to produce a scooped lob over SPAL goalkeeper Etrit Berisha for his second league goal of the season.
Petagna pulled one back with a penalty awarded for a Daniele Rugani foul on Simone Missiroli after 68 minutes, a decision made by VAR officials with referee unable to check the faulty monitor.
“Today we had goals scored using VAR when VAR wasn’t working,” said Sarri.
“It seems to me a great injustice — if the monitor does not work, the referee must decide.
“I understand that the regulation allows this and (referee Federico) La Penna explained it to me, but I don’t agree with it.”
Ronaldo missed a chace for a second when his free-kick hit the crossbar, but Sarri’s side earned a valuable three points against an outfit they had failed to beat away from home in the previous two seasons.
Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini made his first start since being sidelined with a cruciate ligament knee injury last August, playing for 55 minutes in Ferrara.
“We’re taking it slowly, seeing how he reacts,” added Sarri.
“He can’t play three games in six days that’s for sure.”
AC Milan missed the chance to move ahead of sixth-placed Napoli into the Europa League places with a 1-1 draw at 10-man Fiorentina, to stay behind the southerners on goal difference.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a goal ruled out in the first half for a handball with Milan also losing goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to a foot injury seven minutes after the break with Asmir Begovic making his debut.
Ante Rebic scored his sixth goal in as many league games in the 56th minute to give Milan the lead.
Fiorentina’s Dalbert was sent off for a foul on Ibrahimovic, leaving the hosts a man down for the final half an hour.
But Erick Pulgar grabbed a point for 13th-placed Fiorentina from the spot with five minutes to go for an Alessio Romagnoli foul on Patrick Cutrone.
Late Kobe Bryant’s Towel Sold For ₦12 MILLION
Late basketball legend Kobe Bryant’s towel has been sold for over N12million ($33,000) at an auction.
Bryant wore the towel over his shoulders during his farewell speech after his final National Basketball League.
With the towel draped around him to help mop up his sweat, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar closed his speech with his signature phrase, “Mamba Out.”
A fan got hold of the towel as Bryant walked off the court at the time. It was then sold several times before the latest online auction.
The winning bid on Sunday was $33,077. The buyer also received two used tickets to the April 13, 2016 Lakers game.
Bryant scored 60 points in the Lakers’ 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz that night.
Speaking about the sale, Jeff Woolf, president of Iconic Auctions, told American news broadcaster CNN that the winning bidder is famous for having a large Lakers memorabilia collection.
“He is a devoted Lakers fan,” Woolf said. “His long-term plan is to create a museum in southern California.”
Bryant died in January at age 41 in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles that killed eight others, including his daughter Gianna.
Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers. The superstar guard led the club to five NBA titles during his stay.
He was an 18-time NBA All-Star and the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and also helped the United States capture Olympic gold in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 in London.
Daniel Amokachi Snubs Okocha, Kanu, Names Mikel Obi Greatest Nigerian Player
Former Super Eagles player and current football coach, Daniel Amokachi, has snubbed the likes of Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and Joseph Yobo to declare former Chelsea player John Mikel Obi as Nigeria’s greatest ever player.
Mikel, 32 has had a distinguished playing career, winning 9 major silverware including AFCON, two Premier League titles, the Champions League, the Carling Cup, the FA Cup, and Europa League while Kanu also had a distinguished career winning trophies and playing in big clubs like Inter Milan, Ajax and Arsenal, but Amokachi who earned 44 caps for Nigeria feels Mikel is Nigeria’s greatest ever player.
‘Mikel (Obi) is the greatest player,’ said Amokachi on Brila FM’s Show “The Bull’s Pit”.
‘He has won everything that a player can hope to; the Champions League, Europa, AFCON in 2013 and he also captained the national team.
‘As a footballer, your laurels count and that will surely count for Mikel because nobody has won that much in Nigerian football.’
Odion Ighalo Wins First Man Utd Award
Odion Ighalo has won his first award at the Old Trafford club after his sparkling effort goal against LASK in the Europa League.
Manchester United made this known in a statement on its official website on Saturday.
“Ighalo has won the club’s March Goal-of-the-Month award,” the statement read.
“The Nigerian’s driven shot to open the scoring against the Austrians, after some skilled ball juggling in the build-up, took home 32 percent of your votes in our Official App.
“Ighalo narrowly beat off fierce competition from Scott McTominay, whose memorable late goal against Manchester City received 26 percent. Bruno Fernandes’ first strike from open play for the Reds, at Everton, finished third in the poll with 16 percent.
“Of course, March was cut short due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the Reds’ games versus Tottenham Hotspur, LASK and Norwich City being postponed.”
Ighalo joined United in the January transfer window from Chinese side, Shanghai Shenhua.
Odion Ighalo was running to be named Manchester United’s Player of the Month for March but lost to Bruno Fernandes.
Ighalo was nominated alongside Fernandes, Harry Maguire and Fred.
Ighalo only arrived at Old Trafford in January, signing a six-month loan deal with the Red Devils.
In March, he scored three goals including a brace in their 3-0 win over Derby County in the FA Cup. Ighalo also netted once and provided an assists against LASK in the Europa League last 16 first leg.
In total, the Nigerian striker has scored four times in three starts for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
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