Ronaldo marks 1,000th game with record-equalling goal


Rome (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a record-equalling 11th consecutive Serie A game in his 1,000th professional match as Juventus extended their league lead on Saturday with a 2-1 win over basement club SPAL.

The 35-year-old tapped in six minutes before the break to equal the mark held by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season for Juventus, including 16 in his current run of 11 matches.

Aaron Ramsey added a second after an hour, before Andrea Petagna pulled one back from the spot for SPAL.

It got Juventus back to winning ways away from home after consecutive defeats against Napoli and Hellas Verona, and ahead of next week’s trip to French club Lyon in the Champions League last 16, first leg.

Maurizio Sarri’s side opened up a four-point lead on second-placed Lazio who travel to Genoa on Sunday.

Inter Milan are six points behind the champions before their game at home against Sampdoria.

Ronaldo had an early goal ruled offside but made no mistake when running onto Juan Cuadrado’s low cross after Ramsey’s ball forward.

The Portuguese forward drew level with Sampdoria forward Quagliarella, who in January 2019 equalled the mark previously achieved by Batistuta in 1994-1995 for Fiorentina.

Both Italian Quagliarella and Argentine Batistuta went on to finish the seasons as the Serie A top scorer after their feat, with both scoring 26 goals in total.

Ronaldo has 21 goals in Serie A this season, five behind leading scorer Ciro Immobile.

Ramsey doubled Juve’s lead on the hour mark, latching onto Paulo Dybala pass to produce a scooped lob over SPAL goalkeeper Etrit Berisha for his second league goal of the season.

Petagna pulled one back with a penalty awarded after a VAR review for a Daniele Rugani foul on Simone Missiroli.

Ronaldo missed a chace for a second when his free-kick hit the crossbar, but Sarri’s side earned a valuable three points against an outfit they had failed to beat away from home in the previous two seasons.

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini got his first start since being sidelined with a cruciate ligament knee injury last August, playing for 55 minutes in Ferrara.

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