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Ronaldo makes winning home debut as Juventus beat Lazio

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Cristiano Ronaldo made a winning home debut for Juventus in 2-0 victory over Lazio
© AFP Marco BERTORELLO

TURIN, Italy, Aug 25 – Cristiano Ronaldo is still waiting for his first competitive goal in Italy but made a winning home debut for Juventus in Turin with Miralem Pjanic and Mario Mandzukic ensuring a 2-0 win for the champions over Lazio on Saturday.

Ronaldo, 33, unintentionally played a role in Mandzukic’s second goal of the night on 75 minutes after Pjanic put the hosts in front at the Allianz Stadium.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner joined the Serie A champions from Real Madrid in a 100-million-euro deal.

Juve have now won their opening two games after last weekend’s 3-2 success against Chievo in Verona.

“The danger today was getting swept up in the enthusiasm of the stadium for Ronaldo’s first game at the stadium,” said coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“We went from being frenetic at times to falling asleep at others.

“I’m happy with the performance, it was our first head-to-head with one of the other big clubs and it went well.

“Cristiano has been with us for 15 days, he worked well in the defensive phase and proved to be a smart lad.

“He understood that the Italian championship is completely different from the Spanish one and he has understood the DNA of Juventus.

“Then everyone is waiting for his goal, but I’m happy with what he did and how he is settling in because he is a very humble guy.”

Lazio — fifth last season in Serie A — have had their worst start to the season in over a decade following last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at home against Napoli.

“We did not expect this start, we wanted a different calendar,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi blaming “basic errors” after defeats against the top two teams.

Lazio had ended Juventus’s two-year unbeaten home Serie A run last year, but apart from a Luis Alberto shot after an hour they failed to threaten.

In the first home game for the seven-time defending champions, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa started on the bench, with Allegri opting for Federico Bernardeschi and Mandzukic to spearhead the frontline with Ronaldo.

– ‘Scoring in his DNA’ –

‘We’ll help him score’ – World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi says of new Juventus teammate Ronaldo.
© AFP Marco BERTORELLO

World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi set up Ronaldo for the champions’ first chance after 19 minutes but it was Germany international Sami Khedira who rattled the woodwork with Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha diving to clear a Bernardeschi angled drive.

But the hosts broke through on the half-hour when Mandzukic knocked down a cross for Pjanic to power a half-volley into the corner.

Ronaldo came close after 63 minutes but headed just wide after connecting with a Joao Cancelo cross and again threatened on 71 minutes but Strakosha tipped over.

Cancelo then set up Ronaldo for what looked destined to be his first goal for his new club, but the Portuguese star failed to control the ball directly in front of goal with Mandzukic taking advantage to finish off.

“He is the the best player in the world. For us it is something exceptional, we are very happy to play with him,” said Matuidi of Ronaldo.

“Of course we’re going to help him, we’re going to help him score goals because it is in his DNA.

“We will learn from his game. Juventus is another culture. For him, for us, to understand his game.

“He is someone who goes forward very quickly, who is very mobile, we need to understand each other better. We will improve in that sense and I know he will score an enormous amount of goals.”

It was the first time that Ronaldo has not scored at the Allianz Stadium, having found the net three times for Real Madrid against the Italians.

Ronaldo’s next chance for his first goal will come against promoted Parma next Saturday.

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