After Ferrari pole, Lewis Hamilton plans to study late and find Raikkonen-beating plan in Italy

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland steers his car during the qualifying session at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Updated 01 September 2018
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After Ferrari pole, Lewis Hamilton plans to study late and find Raikkonen-beating plan in Italy

MONZA: Championship leader Lewis Hamilton said he planned to study late into the night Saturday to find a way to beat Ferrari in Sunday’s keenly-anticipated Italian Grand Prix.
The defending world champion qualified third behind Kimi Raikkonen, who took pole with Formala One’s record fastest lap, and title rival Sebastian Vettel, who is 17 points behind the Briton in the drivers’ standings.
After acknowledging Ferrari’s marginally superior speed, he said: “The start will hopefully create an opportunity for us.
“I’ve got to study hard tonight to figure out a way how I can get in front of at least one of the Ferraris on the first lap.
“It’s great that Valtteri is right behind me so we can really apply the pressure on the red cars,” he said, referring to Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton broke the record set by Juan-Pablo Montoya at Monza in 2004, in a BMW-powered Williams, but it was not enough to earn him a front row spot as his run of four consecutive Italian poles ended.
“They did a solid job,” he said, during post-qualifying interviews on the track, when he was booed by sections of the partisan crowd.
“We gave it everything we could — it’s obviously incredibly close between us, but they’ve had the upper-hand this weekend. Everyone in the team is working as hard as they can to make the difference.
“It’s incredibly close, which is great for the sport and it’s great to see so many fans here.
“We’ve improved the car overnight and I’m really happy with where we were today. I’m proud of my guys for pushing this hard.
“We’ve squeezed absolutely everything out of the car, I kind of knew that the Ferraris might just be able to pull out some extra bit of time.
“We’ve got to fight hard tomorrow. The long run pace of the Ferraris looked quicker than ours, so it’s not going to be easy — that’s for sure.”
Bottas, who battled to take fourth, said: “It has been difficult. We tried some set-up changes for final practice and it was better in the corners, but on the breaking I lost performance. It was easy to lock up.
“But this is only qualifying and the weekend is not over. We will give it everything tomorrow in the race. The first lap is going to be interesting — we might get a bit of tow-effect into Turn One.”


Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

‘I’m very happy to have won my first title with Juventus,’ Cristiano Ronaldo said. (Photo/General Sports Authority)
Updated 17 January 2019
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Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

  • Ronaldo’s glancing header sinks AC Milan 1-0 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City Stadium

JEDDAH: A historic Wednesday evening at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium saw Italian champions Juventus beat AC Milan in the final of the 31st annual Supercoppa Italiana.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal as Juventus lifted the Supercoppa Italiana for the first time since 2015 with a 1-0 victory in front of a sold-out 61,235-capacity crowd.

As only one should expect when two of the most successful Italian clubs go head to head, a tactical and elegant, albeit very physical, display of football was at hand. 

Cheerful roars from the Jeddah crowd resonated throughout the night, in the kind of buzzing atmosphere that only a cup final brings.

Juventus, the Serie A champions, began brightly and were the first side to settle into the game, threatening with frequent sweeping moves.

Juventus and Portuguese international Joao Cancelo could have opened the scoring in the 16th minute after being played through on goal, but the defender’s zooming effort lacked the necessary precision and whisked past the far post with the Milan keeper rooted in his spot.

A maddening crescendo of noise erupted when Juventus and French international Blaise Matuidi thought he had opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after being played through by Costa before being flagged offside. 

Juventus did not have too much longer for another opportunity though, with Ronaldo’s acrobatic half volley from just outside the six-yard box bouncing and nestling agonizingly just over the bar and sparing Donnarumma’s blushes in the process.

Christiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in his last seven finals. (Reuters)

Milan, who qualified for the final as runners-up to Juventus in last season’s Coppa Italia, had struggled throughout the first half to settle into the game. They gradually grew into their own though, and nearly broke the deadlock at the stroke of halftime with a stinging drive from Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu.

After a slew of opportunities had Juventus failing to build a halftime lead, Milan nearly made them pay for their squandered chances by starting the second half like bats out of hell. 

Milan’s confident pressing start to the half was almost rewarded in the 47th minute when a Ronaldo tackle inadvertently set up Cutrone with a clear sight on goal.  The striker turned and blasted an effort that rattled off the crossbar — the closest either team had come thus far.

And just when the tide seemed to have turned for Milan in the second half, their confidence building with every minute, a perfectly floating cross from Pjanic found Ronaldo with yards of space, and he made no mistake directing a swift header into the back of the net in the 61st minute and sending Juve supporters into a frenzy.


• AS IT HAPPENED: Cristiano Ronaldo's goal gives Juventus Supercoppa Italiana victory over AC Milan in Jeddah >>

• Arab News Matchday gallery >>


Things went from bad to worse for Milan in the 73rd minute. Franck Kessie came rushing in with a recklessly timed tackle, crunching his studs into the shins of Emre Can, which resulted in him seeing a straight red and leaving Milan with 10 men and a subsequent insurmountable uphill battle.

The final whistle came soon after, and with it brought Juventus a record eighth Supercoppa. It goes without saying that there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a cup final, but this was a historic and monumental occasion for Jeddah. 

The first major European cup final match being held in Saudi Arabia is now in the books, and with it brought an added sense of passion and excitement. 

Thousands of men, women and children showed up enthusiastically, were highly supportive of both teams, and were thoroughly entertained. It was a successful and memorable night that will surely pave the way for many more.

Addressing a prematch press conference on Tuesday night, Juventus Captain Giorgio Chiellini had defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.

“We (footballers) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.”

Juventus had been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they had lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European Cup finals. 

Chiellini, however, firmly believed that his team would change the trend and the team did make their captain proud. 

Juventus now holds the outright record of most Italian Super Cups with eight titles. (Arab News photo by Ali Khamg)