VAR is the villain as controversial penalty call allows Cristiano Ronaldo to salvage draw in 90th minute for Juventus in Coppa Italia semi-final against AC Milan at the San Siro
- Cristiano Ronaldo scored a controversial late penalty against AC Milan
- VAR opted to award a contentious handball with the home team leading 1-0
- Milan were incensed that Davide Calabria was penalised given how close he was
- Ronaldo made no mistake and the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg ended 1-1
Ronaldo cannoned a bicycle kick into the hand of Milan’s Davide Calabria, who was facing the other way when the shot was blocked with his hand.
The referee immediately waved off Juventus protests and it was not until the intervention of VAR that the game became dominated by a single decision.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s bicycle kick was hit into the hand of AC Milan’s Davide Calabria (right)
The decision went to VAR and the referee changed his mind and controversially gave a penalty
Ronaldo made it 11 straight games in which he has scored to rescue a draw for Juventus
The Portuguese got a vital away goal in the club’s Coppa Italia semi-final against AC Milan
Ronaldo converted the penalty with confidence. That is 35 in 35 for club and country now.
Scoring an away goal, given they looked set to lose, felt massive for the Italian champions.
‘It’s important to score an away goal, but a team like ours cannot just be happy to allow Milan an opener and put the game in doubt,’ Leonardo Bonucci told Rai Sport after the draw.
‘We have to get back in shape, everyone needs to step up and do more. It wasn’t a bad performance, but Milan pressed high and at this moment we need to do more, because what we’re doing during the week is not enough.
Ante Rebic had earlier volleyed Milan in front and they were the better side on the night
Milan have improved since Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival and are playing with a confidence
Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri was facing the prospect of back to back defeats after the opener
AC Milan: G Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, T. Hernandez; Castillejo, Kessie, Bennacer, Rebic (Laxalt 74); Calhanoglu (Paqueta 87); Ibrahimovic
Subs not used: Begovic, Bonaventura, Gabbia, Saelemaekers, Brescianini, Musacchio, Leao, A Donnarumma, Maldini
Goals: Rebic (62)
Booked: Ibrahimovic, T. Hernandez, Kessie, Calabria
Sent off: T. Hernandez
Manager: Stefano Pioli
Juventus : Buffon; De Sciglio (Higuain 69), De Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Ramsey (Bentancur 63), Pjanic, Matuidi (Rabiot 73); Cuadrado, Dybala, Ronaldo
Subs not used: Szczesny, Danilo, Rugani, Pinsoglio, Olivieri, Coccolo, Wesley
Goals: Ronaldo (pen 90+1)
Manager: Maurizio Sarri
But there were plenty in red and black that felt furious the decision, along with the second half sending off for Theo Hernandez, was made given the referee was initially adamant it was not a deliberate handball.
Calabria was facing the crosser on the right and as the ball went over his head, he was unaware Ronaldo was to strike from a yard or two behind him.
He did not see the strike, could not have moved out of the way and found himself booked for dissent when pleading his innocence.
His manager was, unsurprisingly, seething at the final whistle.
‘I got angry first and foremost because there was a foul on Ibrahimovic earlier in the move,’ Stefano Pioli said.
‘Plus I remember the referees showed footage of that Cagliari-Brescia penalty at the start of the season and said it was an error to award it because the player couldn’t see the ball.
‘I therefore don’t see what’s so different with this situation, as Calabria couldn’t see it. Alberto Cerri, in that situation, jumped and could not just cut his arms off, you have to use your arms when jumping. He didn’t have time to get his arms back into position.’
It was largely a poor Juventus display and were it not for VAR’s intervention, they were staring back to back defeats in the face.
The saving grace for Sarri and Juventus is this is effectively half-time, with the two sides to meet again in Turin on March 4 to compete for a place in the final.
Theo Hernandez was sent off for a second yellow card and Milan were reduced to 10 men
Stefano Pioli urged his side to hang on but Ronaldo, as he often does, saved the day for Juve
Juventus looked ponderous for large spells at the San Siro, despite starting with both Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala and just after the hour mark, they paid the price when Rebic volleyed in.
Samu Castillejo manufactured a yard of space on the right, lifted his head up and looked to pick out Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the six-yard box.
The Swede leaped high, but not high enough, and the chance appeared to have gone when the cross evaded him.
But there was Rebic, ahead of Juventus full-back Mattia De Sciglio, to swipe into the bottom of Gianluigi Buffon’s net.
It was no less than Milan deserved. Juventus have been below par for weeks and are no longer getting away with it as they have in previous seasons. There is very much all to play for when the second installment of this heavyweight clash rolls round.