Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Juventus came from behind to beat Inter Milan in the first-leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final at San Siro.
Full of confidence after beating Juve 2-0 in the Serie A only 16 days ago, Inter made the breakthrough in the eighth-minute when Lautaro Martinez squeezed a shot underneath Gianluigi Buffon to complete a well-worked counter-attack.
But Inter were the makers of their own undoing as Andrea Pirlo's side turned the game on its head before the break. VAR intervened to give the visitors a penalty after Ashley Young fouled Juan Cuadrado, with Ronaldo levelling the scores from the spot. And the Portuguese pounced to score his second following a mix-up between goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and Alessandro Bastoni in defence, leaving the 35-year-old to roll the ball in from a tight angle.
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Merih Demiral made a crucial goal-line block to deny Alexis Sanchez before Buffon helped make amends for his mistake with a big save to deny Matteo Darmian from point-blank range, as Inter's push for an equaliser after the restart amounted to nothing.
The sides meet again in the second-leg on Tuesday, February 9, with Inter needing to score at least two goals in order to reach the final against either Atalanta or Napoli.
Ronaldo rises to the occasion - again. When Martinez struck early to give Inter the lead, it seemed likely the hosts would go on to win the game. After all, Antonio Conte's side had completely outplayed Juve in the league just over two weeks earlier and should have been filled with confidence. But Ronaldo had other ideas. Forever the man for the big occasion, the Portuguese stepped up to the plate once again to transform the game in Juve's favour. He may be 35 and in the twilight of his career, but Ronaldo's influence shows no sign of waning.
While Juve's star man was fit and firing, Inter missed their talisman Romelu Lukaku, absent through suspension, with Sanchez suffering a blank in front of goal. But it was the mistakes from two of their most dependable players in Handnovic and Young which really proved costly.
This tie is far from over, but Inter have given themselves a mountain to climb, and if omens are to believed, Juve - having won their last five successive semi-finals - already have one foot in the final.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Merih Demiral (Juventus)
His positional awareness was excellent and a vital goal-line block to keep the score at 2-1 epitomised an outstanding defensive performance.
Inter: Handanovic 4, Skriniar 6, De Vrij 6, Bastoni 5, Darmian 5, Barella 7, Brozovic 6, Vidal 6, Young 5, Martinez 6, Sanchez 5.. subs: Sensi N/A, Perisic 5, Eriksen 5, Pinamonti N/A.
Juventus: Buffon, Cuadrado, Demiral, De Ligt, Sandro, McKennie, Bentancur, Rabiot, Bernardeschi, Ronaldo, Kulusevski.. subs: Chiellini N/A, Danilo 5, Arthur 5, Chiesa N/A, Morata 5.
8' - GOAL! Inter 1-0 Juventus (Lautaro Martinez): Inter spring a counter-attack and draw first blood! Sanchez holds the ball up following a beautiful pass from Vidal and feeds Barella, who drives down the right and centres it for Martinez, who gets in front of de Ligt. He gets his shot away, Buffon should save it but it squirms underneath him, and Inter are ahead!
25' - Penalty to Juve! Young loses Cuadrado and subsequently grabs the Juve wing-back, bringing him down, in a desperate bid to stop him from meeting a cross. The referee runs over to the screen, and Juve could have a penalty here... The referee points to the spot and Young is subsequently booked!
26' - GOAL! Inter 1-1 Juventus (Cristiano Ronaldo, pen): Ronaldo steps up and confidently smashes it down the middle, leaving Handanovic with no chance! We're all level in this tie!
35' - GOAL! Inter 1-2 Juventus (Cristiano Ronaldo): It's an absolute gift from Inter! Handanovic, for reasons unknown, races off his line as Bastoni fails to clear. Ronaldo pounces and finishes from a tight angle!
- Juventus have won the first-leg semi-final of the Coppa Italia on four of their last five occasions (D1), including twice against Inter - 3-0 in January 2016 previously.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the most braces in the top-five European Leagues this season in all competitions with eight.
- Ronaldo has netted six goals in eight matches at the San Siro in all competitions with Juventus three v Inter; three v Milan).
- Nicolo Barella has been involved in each of three Inter's goals against Juventus this season, scoring one goal and registering two assists.
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