Cristiano Ronaldo Scores Two More As VAR Saves Juve Late

Cristiano Ronaldo increased his goal tally to 49 for the calendar year with two goals in Juventus’ 2-1 victory over Sampdoria on Saturday. But Ronaldo’s final match of 2018 was dominated by VAR calls — both for and against the Bianconeri.

In his first season in Serie A, Ronaldo has 14 goals at the halfway mark of the season, putting him in the lead for the Golden Boot race despite a slow start to his time in Italy. 

Juventus has 53 points through 19 matches (17 wins, two draws), putting the Old Lady on pace to break the record for most points in a season. The current record is 102, set by Juve in 2014. 

The three points didn’t come easily on Saturday against Sampdoria. 

Playing at Allianz Stadium, Ronaldo got the home side off to a perfect start when Paulo Dybala sent a long ball across the field to the Portuguese star less than two minutes in. Ronaldo cut onto his right foot to blast a low shot past Emil Audero, who was great for most of the match but perhaps could’ve done better on this shot.

But the lead would only last about half an hour.

VAR awarded Sampdoria a penalty kick for a hand ball in the box (it was the right call, if not a bit harsh) and Fabio Quagliarella coolly converted to equalize in the 33rd minute. Quagliarella has now scored in nine straight Serie A matches, the first player to do so since David Trezeguet in 2005, though his goal wasn’t as spectacular as his strike on Wednesday.

In the second half, the referee blew his whistle for another hand ball in the box — this time on Sampdoria — and later confirmed it with VAR. No one other than Ronaldo was ever going to take the spot kick and the striker struck it right down the middle as Audero dove out of the way to make it 2-1 in the 65th minute.

Once again, however, the lead only lasted about 30 minutes — sort of. 

Riccardo Saponara scored what would have been the goal of the match in the 92nd minute, a beautiful curling effort that Mattia Perin could only watch sail into the top left corner. 

But VAR again cropped up, ruling offside in the buildup to negate the goal and allow Juventus to hold on for all three points.

The VAR calls (both for and against Juventus) were, in the end, the correct calls, but understandably frustrating for Sampdoria.

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