Juventus stutter again as Ronaldo secures Torino draw

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Juventus needed a 79th-minute equaliser from Cristiano Ronaldo to rescue a 2-2 draw in the Turin derby against relegation battling Torino on Saturday, leaving the champions’ Serie A title defence in tatters.

The pressure was on Andrea Pirlo’s side to produce a convincing performance after suffering a 1-0 loss to lowly Benevento before the international break, and they started strongly as Federico Chiesa scored after 13 minutes.

But striker Antonio Sanabria soon headed Torino level, before latching onto a careless Dejan Kulusevski backpass to fire his side in front in the opening minute of the second half.

Ronaldo headed in from close range to equalise but he was flagged for offside, before a VAR review overturned the decision and allowed the goal.

“It’s a very important point for us and the situation we were going through. I’m sorry we didn’t manage to take all three points home, but I think we have to be happy with our performance,” Sanabria told DAZN.

Juve slipped to fourth place on 56 points, level with Napoli in fifth, who they face on Wednesday, and nine behind leaders Inter, who play Bologna later on Saturday.

Torino moved onto 24 points, two clear of the relegation zone in 17th place.

Antonio Sanabria (2-L) and Alex Sandro (L) in action during the Italian Serie A soccer match Torino FC vs Juventus at the Olimpico Grande Torino Stadium in Turin, Italy, 03 April 2021. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO – Z63

The stakes were high for both sides heading into the game, with Torino desperately fighting the drop and Pirlo facing mounting pressure following defeat to Benevento.

Pirlo was not helped by United States midfielder Weston McKennie breaking national lockdown rules by hosting a dinner party with team mates Arthur Melo and Paulo Dybala during the week, and all three were left out as punishment.

Juve started strongly and Chiesa fired a low shot between Salvatore Sirigu’s legs from a tight angle to put them in front, but Torino levelled in the 27th minute when Wojciech Szczesny parried a shot into Sanabria’s path for an easy headed finish.

The Paraguay international scored his second within 13 seconds of the restart as he anticipated Kulusevski’s pass, raced into the box and beat Szczesny at his near post.

Sirigu brilliantly denied Ronaldo with a fingertip save but could do nothing about the Portuguese forward’s close-range header, which was eventually given after VAR consultation.

Torino had Sirigu to thank again when he palmed a Rodrigo Bentancur shot onto the post, while Szczesny made amends for his earlier errors by producing good saves to deny Sanabria and Daniele Baselli efforts late on.

(Reuters)

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