Cristiano Ronaldo scores the 57th hat-trick of his career as he fires Juventus to routine win at Cagliari with Andrea Pirlo’s side desperately trying to make up ground on the Milan sides in the Serie A title race
- Cristiano Ronaldo netted the 57th hat trick of his career in Juventus victory
- The Portuguese star scored three goals inside 33 minutes in win over Cagliari
- Ronaldo took his season’s Serie A tally to 23 goals, four more than anyone else
- Juventus closed the gap to second-place AC Milan to just a point with the win
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a perfect hat-trick inside 32 minutes as Juventus bounced back from their midweek Champions League exit by beating Cagliari 3-1 away in Serie A on Sunday.
The 36-year-old striker found the net with a header, a right-footed penalty and a left-foot shot and celebrated by pointing to his ear in an apparent response to recent criticism.
The Italian champions and their Portuguese talisman were under pressure to perform after suffering a Champions League last-16 elimination against Porto on Tuesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the perfect hat trick as Juventus smashed Cagliari on Sunday
The Juventus forward opened the scoring with a powerful header in the tenth minute
They enjoyed a comfortable win despite Giovanni Simeone’s second-half strike for the hosts and are now third with 55 points, 10 behind leaders Inter Milan with a game in hand.
Ronaldo declined to give a post-match interview when asked at full-time and Juve captain Giorgio Chiellini faced the cameras instead.
‘Our strength has always been to respond on the pitch and we did that today, Cristiano above all,’ he told Sky Italia.
‘We played like Juve and as a team, with our strengths and weaknesses. But with this main ingredient we can finish the season well, we’ll see where we are by mid-May.’
It was Cagliari coach Leonardo Semplicia’s first defeat since taking over in February and left his side in 17th place on 22 points, two clear of the relegation zone.
Ronaldo then doubled his tally with a goal from the penalty spot after winning the spot kick
The Portuguese star then finished his first half hat trick with a wonderful left-footed finish
Cagliari: Cragno, Ceppitelli (Klavan 69), Godin, Rugani (Pereiro 80), Zappa (Asamoah 69), Marin, Duncan (Deiola 80), Nainggolan, Nandez, Pedro, Simeone (Cerri 80);
Subs not used: Aresti, Tripaldelli, Calabresi, Vicario, Walukiewicz, Contini, Carboni
Scorers: Simeone (61)
Juventus: Szczesny, Cuadrado (Frabotta 83), de Ligt, Chiellini (Bonucci 70), Sandro (Bernadeschi 34), Kulusevski, Danilo, Rabiot, Chiesa (Arthur 83), Ronaldo, Morata (McKennie 70);
Subs not used: Pinsoglio, Di Pardo, Dragusin, Fagiolo, Garofani
Scorers: Ronaldo (10, 25, 32)
Booked: Ronaldo, Cuadrado
Ronaldo came in for widespread criticism and was linked by the media with a possible close-season departure from Juve after his disappointing display against Porto, who knocked the Turin club out of Europe on away goals following a 4-4 aggregate draw.
But the Portuguese forward was fired up for the trip to the Sardegna Arena and quickly made his mark by powering in a header from a corner after 10 minutes, a goal that means he has now scored in all 18 stadiums he has visited in Serie A.
Ronaldo was booked for catching goalkeeper Alessio Cragno in the face with a high boot as they both went for a cross, and the striker was then brought down in the box by the keeper and smashed home the resulting penalty in the 25th minute.
He soon had his third goal as he performed a trademark step-over before hammering a shot past Cragno to mark the second fastest hat-trick of his career, after the treble he scored in 20 minutes for Real Madrid against Espanyol in September 2015.
Cagliari pulled a goal back in the second half when Simeone fired in a low shot and Ronaldo had a big chance to score his fourth with the last kick of the game when one-on-one with Cragno but the keeper denied him with an excellent block.
Elsewhere in Italy, Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan stretched their unbeaten run to ten matches with a narrow victory over Torino and extended their lead to nine points.
Giovanni Simeone scored what proved to be only a consolation in the second half for the hosts