Juventus too good for Man Utd on Ronaldo’s return

Paulo Dybala scores Juventus’ winner as Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic looks on. (Reuters)
Updated 24 October 2018

Juventus too good for Man Utd on Ronaldo’s return

  • Paulo Dybala scored the winner on 17 minutes as the Italian champions opened up a five-point lead over United at the top of Group H
  • The hosts failed to threaten until Paul Pogba’s curling shot from outside the box hit the post 15 minutes from time

MANCHESTER: Cristiano Ronaldo emerged victorious again on his second return to Old Trafford, but this time did not get on the scoresheet as Juventus outclassed Manchester United to win 1-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Instead Ronaldo played a supporting role by helping set up Paulo Dybala’s winner on 17 minutes as the Italian champions opened up a five-point lead over United at the top of Group H.
Jose Mourinho’s men were handed a break before kick-off as Valencia’s 1-1 draw away to Young Boys means United still hold a two-point lead over the Spaniards, but a fourth defeat of the season will see speculation over Mourinho’s future increase once more.
But for a series of excellent saves from David de Gea, the margin of defeat could have been far greater too as any momentum United gained from fightbacks against Newcastle and Chelsea in recent weeks in the Premier League faded away against one of the favorites to win the Champions League.
Ronaldo was given a hero’s welcome on his previous visit to Old Trafford with Real Madrid in 2013 after scoring 118 goals for United in six seasons between 2003 and 2009 to help the Red Devils win three Premier League titles and the first of his five Champions Leagues.
The Portuguese’s early days as Juventus player since making the move to Italy from Madrid this summer have been overshadowed by a rape allegation made against him in the United States.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has strongly denied the allegation and been backed by his new club, who paid 112 million euros ($129 million) for the 33-year-old in July.
But the reception he received from the United faithful this time was far more muted with only a mild cheer raised when his name in the Juventus line-up was announced.
Ronaldo scored the winner in a contentious Champions League last-16 tie for Madrid five years ago, but this time played the role of provider for Dybala to be the match-winner.
His cross intended for Juan Cuadrado ricocheted kindly off Chris Smalling into the path of Dybala to sweep the ball past De Gea for his fourth goal in two Champions League games.
As Juventus dominated the rest of the first half, only De Gea stood in their way of killing the game off before the break.
The Spaniard flew to his right to save Joao Cancelo’s fiercely-struck shot then produced a fine double save to parry Ronaldo’s free-kick and swat away Blaise Matuidi’s follow-up effort.
Top scorer in this competition for the past six seasons, Ronaldo is still searching for his first Champions League goal for Juventus having been sent off after just 30 minutes of his European debut against Valencia and subsequently banned for a 3-0 victory over Young Boys.
He couldn’t have done much more with an effort that soared toward De Gea’s top corner seven minutes into the second half only to see the United ‘keeper produce a miraculous right-handed save.
Going behind brought out the best in Mourinho’s side against Newcastle and Chelsea to help ease the pressure on the manager.
But the hosts failed to threaten until Paul Pogba’s curling shot from outside the box hit the post 15 minutes from time.
Anthony Martial also tested Wojciech Szczesny late on but Juventus held out for a deserved victory.


Man United manager refuses to blame Pogba after penalty miss

Updated 20 August 2019

Man United manager refuses to blame Pogba after penalty miss

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he allows both Pogba and Rashford to take spot kicks

WOLVERHAMPTON: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to blame Paul Pogba after the Manchester United star missed a penalty in Monday’s 1-1 draw at Wolves after taking spot-kick duties from Marcus Rashford.

Pogba wasted a chance to give United their second successive Premier League win when his penalty was saved by Wolves keeper Rui Patricio.

It was the fourth missed penalty by Pogba since the start of last season. The French midfielder appeared to tell Rashford that he wanted to take it, even though his United teammate had scored from the spot against Chelsea last weekend.

United manager Solskjaer said he allows both Pogba and Rashford to take spot kicks.

“The two of them are the designated  penalty shooters and it’s up to them there and then who feels ‘this is mine’,” he said.

“Sometimes players just feel they are confident enough to score. Paul has scored so many penalties for us and today Rui Patricio made a good save.

“The two of them have been very confident. I like players with confidence and the feeling that ‘I can do this’.”

Former United star Gary Neville called on Solskjaer to resolve the issue before his team’s next penalty.

“They should decide in the dressing room who is the penalty taker — it’s embarrassing,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“This is a Manchester United penalty, this not a tombola, this is not under-fives on the school field.

“Rashford scored last week — take the penalty. But there wasn’t a leader out there. Something wasn’t right.”

Rashford revealed Pogba had said he wanted to take the kick and, publicly at least, the England striker had no problem with that.

“Paul wanted to take it, it’s that simple. Everybody can miss a penalty. He’s scored countless penalties for us so it’s normal to miss one.

“I took one last week so for me it’s no problem for him to take one this week.

“It’s unfortunate he didn’t score but it’s not on him, it’s as a team and we take it forward to the next game.”

It was a disappointing result for United after they dominated the opening period, with Solskjaer admitting they lost their way in a “sloppy” second half.

“First half was a mature performance. Second half was a bit sloppy. We are improving. We are a young team who will learn, we learned on the pitch today,” Solskjaer said.

“Wolves probably got the goal they deserve. I thought we took control again and could have won it.

“We get a penalty that normally would get us another two points, sometimes the keeper makes a good save.”

Solskjaer also refused to rule out Chile forward Alexis Sanchez leaving United before the close of the European transfer window.

Sanchez has been linked with a move to Inter Milan and was missing from United’s matchday squad at Molineux.

“Well, there’s still a couple of weeks left of the transfer window and there is a chance,” Solskjaer said.

“Some clubs have shown interest in Alexis, so we’ll see what happens. I can’t update you more than that.

“There are a few weeks for international transfers to go through but at the moment he’s our player.”