Football

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri thanks Cristiano Ronaldo’s mum

Juventus coach praises her after her son extends scoring streak to help Juve reach Italian Cup semis

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri complimented Cristiano Ronaldo's mother as the Portuguese star extended his scoring streak in a 3-1 win over AS Roma to advance to the Italian Cup semi-finals yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Portuguese star picked up a Gonzalo Higuain cross after 26 minutes, finishing off from an angle in the Allianz Stadium.

It was the 34-year-old's 12th goal in eight consecutive games in which he has played in all competitions for the Turin giants, but his first in the Italian Cup.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has also scored seven goals in four matches this year.

"I believe that the compliments should be made to his mother," said Sarri of Ronaldo, who has now scored in 15 different club competitions throughout his career.

"He is in super form physically. In terms of explosiveness, he is doing well, he takes great care of the details.

"It is difficult to improve on an individual level.

"We are talking about one of the greatest of all time and I would like to help him win a sixth Ballon d'Or."

This is not the first time that Sarri had waxed lyrical over Ronaldo's goal.

Last month, Sarri also purred when Ronaldo hung in the air to head in the winner in a 2-1 victory over Sampdoria.

Following Ronaldo's latest effort, Rodrigo Bentancur added a second goal after 38 minutes, with defender Leonardo Bonucci nodding in a third just before the break.

Cengiz Under pulled a goal back for Roma five minutes after the break, rifling in from distance with the ball hitting the crossbar and bouncing in off Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Buffon denied Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksandar Kolarov to keep Juventus on course in the competition they have won 13 times. They exited in the quarter-finals last season after losing to Atalanta.

Bonucci said Roma gave them a scare in the second half but he was glad that they held on.

"The moment we let the tempo drop, we started to struggle," Bonucci told Rai Sport.

"Roma play very attacking football and the moment we stopped really diving on to the second balls, they forced us to defend deep around our penalty area.

"It was a good second half, as we showed that we were able to suffer under pressure and controlled the situation.

"There are 25 great players here and we need everyone to be ready when called upon, so that the team can keep going to the end of the season."

But Sarri will have an injury worry ahead of their Serie A trip to Napoli on Monday morning, as Brazilian fullback Danilo limped off before the break and was replaced by Juan Cuadrado.

Roma, fourth in Serie A, were struggling with injuries as well and had Edin Dzeko sitting out a ban, but their form was worrying just four days before their derby clash against rivals Lazio.

"The difference in the first half was efficiency," said Roma coach Paulo Fonseca.

"The first chance they had, they scored. The same for the second.

"We know that Edin Dzeko is a very important player for us and his ban was damaging, but the forwards could have done much better this evening."

Juventus - who lost the Italian Super Cup last month to Lazio - will play either AC Milan or Torino in the semi-finals.

Milan travel to Torino next Tuesday with Inter Milan hosting Fiorentina.

The final will be played on May 13 in Rome. - AFP

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