Timeless Cristiano Ronaldo proves age is but a number in Juventus victory

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On 5 February 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo turned 36.

On 6 February 2021, he put in another masterful display for Juventus, doing what he’s done best for almost 20 years.

Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus GIF by JuventusFC - Find & Share on GIPHY

I Bianconeri faced off against an organised and dangerous AS Roma side on Saturday afternoon, knowing that they had to win in order to maintain their diminishing hopes of bagging an incredible tenth successive Serie A title.

The current champions have looked far from convincing at times this season, and have had to rely on some good fortune or individual brilliance to get them through the tightest of games against their rivals.

Occasionally, it hasn’t been enough. But Saturday’s battle with an offensive Giallorossi side was one of those occasions in which one man has delivered when his teammates needed him most – as he has infinitely done throughout his career.

36-year-old Ronaldo was in inspired form against Paulo Fonseca’s men, offering a masterclass in attacking movement and clinical finishing in their 2-0 victory.

The Portugese superstar required only 13 minutes to get his birthday celebrations underway, and he did it in some style. The forward received the ball just outside the penalty area, slightly left of centre, and he fired a left-footed poke from a stationary position with little back-lift.

The shot didn’t possess his usual venom and power, but what it lacked in speed, it made up for in accuracy. It arrowed towards the far corner and took goalkeeper Pau Lopez by surprise, so much so that he could not intercept its trajectory.

Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration, smiling and whooping as if it were the first ever goal of his majestic career. But as if to epitomise his unquenchable thirst for success, he refused to rest on his laurels and admire his handiwork.

In fact, he was almost at it again minutes later. The striker used all his guile and experience to drift out of his marker’s eyesight and suddenly pull to the right, and he was picked out expertly by a teammate. Ronaldo took one touch to steady himself, then rifled a drilled strike towards the far corner.

This time, no dice. Marash Kumbulla just about got back into position and stuck a long leg in the shot’s path, deflecting it into the ground and up onto the crossbar. So, so close. His final major act of the first half was to sting Lopez’s palms with another scorcher, threatening to punish Roma every time they dared leave him half-unattended.

That initial effort separated the two teams at half-time, and gave Juve licence to play the game at their own tempo.

Ronaldo was restricted to fewer touches and more isolation in the second period, as Roma dominated the ball in search of an equaliser. But he was instrumental in the killer winning goal – his mere presence alone proving enough to force Roger Ibanez into poking Dejan Kulusevski’s cross into his own net.

Juan Cuadrado, Dejan Kulusevski, Alex Sandro, Cristiano Ronaldo
All smiles in Turin | Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

That relentless desire for perfection spilled over in the second half however, and Ronaldo was awarded a yellow card for over-zealous protests against a decision that did not go his way. It wouldn’t be Ronaldo without that boyish petulance though, would it?

In the end, it was a massive three points for Juventus, who put the pressure on Milan to step up to the plate when they face Crotone on Sunday. And as always, it was that man Cristiano who made the difference for the champions.

This winning mentality grows with every extra candle which their talisman extinguishes each year – he could carry on for another decade.

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