Ronaldo asks to be benched as Juventus draw in opener

Sunday, August 22nd, 2021 23:09 | By
Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (right) speaks to team mate Paulo Dybala during their Italian Serie A football match against Udinese and Juventus at the Dacia Arena Stadium in Udine, on May 2, 2021. Photo/AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of Massimiliano Allegri's starting XI as Juventus drew their Serie A opener against Udinese.

With ongoing speculation surrounding his future, reports suggested Ronaldo asked not to be picked.

However, Juventus director Pavel Nedved denied the rumours, insisting it was a "shared decision" not to start the five-time Ballon d'Or winner." He is absolutely staying at Juventus," Nedved told broadcaster DAZN.

Ronaldo, 36, replaced Alvaro Morata on 60 minutes and thought he had headed in an injury-time winner from Federico Chiesa's cross, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside.

Returning boss Allegri chose Morata to lead the line in a front three that also included Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado, who were both on target.

Dybala opened the scoring inside three minutes, before Cuadrado doubled the lead with a low drive.

Igancio Pussetto guided a Pereyra corner wide, and Alvaro Morata would curl wide of the mark as the first half closed out with plentiful action.

The home side would halve the deficit with a Pereyra spot kick after Tolgay Arslan was felled by visiting goalkeeper Wojciech Szczcesny after the Polish international had fumbled the initial shot from the German midfielder.

Cristiano Ronaldo, surprisingly benched on his own request, was brought on the hour, but he couldn't add his name to the scoresheet as he planted a header over the top from a Dybala delivery, before crashing a shot from range against the post as Juventus struggled to redouble their lead.

The equaliser came - at long last - for the hosts - substitute Gerard Deulofeu profiting from another Szczesny mistake, as he and Leonardo Bonucci made a mess of playing out from the back, gifting the former Watford winger a guilt-edged golden opportunity to slot home for 2-2.

Ronaldo thought he had won it for the visitor’s right at the death with five minutes into the six added, he popped up as he always does - right place, right time, to slot home, but VAR would rule out the dramatic winner, and give Udinese the point they will really feel like they deserved.

Ronaldo may well want to leave after this, and who can blame him after a such a shaky defensive display and dramatic heartache in that second half.

Much work for Max Allegri is ahead, the most pressing issues being his goalkeeper and keeping his talisman and Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

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