Ronaldo starts on bench as Juventus wastes 2-goal lead

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri shouts during the Serie A soccer match between Udinese and Juventus, at the Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. (Andrea Bressanutti/LaPresse via AP)

MILAN (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo started on the bench as Massimiliano Allegri’s return to Juventus got off to a disappointing start on Sunday. Two mistakes from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny saw his side relinquish an early two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Udinese in the Italian league.

Ronaldo didn’t start amid reports he had asked to be on the bench and that he could still leave Juventus with a year remaining on his contract. When he did come on in the second half, Ronaldo thought he had scored a stoppage-time winner but it was ruled out for offside after he had ripped off his shirt in celebration and been embraced by teammates.

Paulo Dybala scored and set up another goal to give Juventus what looked like a comfortable advantage a quarter of the way through the match. But Szczęsny conceded a penalty and another mistake from him allowed Gerard Deulofeu to score the equalizer with seven minutes remaining.

Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo scores a goal that was later disallowed during the Serie A soccer match between Udinese and Juventus, at the Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. (Andrea Bressanutti/LaPresse via AP)

Allegri was rehired by Juventus in the offseason — just two years after he was fired by the club — after the Bianconeri’s worst season in 10 years ended their nine-year grip on the league title and saw the end of Andrea Pirlo’s brief tenure.

José Mourinho has also returned to Serie A and his Roma side beat Fiorentina 3-1.

Allegri’s return got off to the best possible start. Juan Cuadrado and Rodrigo Bentancur combined before the latter pulled the ball back for Dybala to drill across into the bottom left corner and give Juventus a third-minute lead.

Dybala turned provider 20 minutes later with a brilliant cross-field pass to Cuadrado, who skipped past a couple of defenders before shooting into the far bottom corner.

Udinese got back into the match six minutes into the second half. Szczęsny could only parry Tolgay Arslan’s effort and then brought down the Udinese midfielder as they both went for the rebound.

Roberto Pereyra struck the penalty into the bottom right corner.

Juventus almost restored its two-goal lead immediately but Álvaro Morata’s header came off the left post.

Ronaldo was brought on at the hour mark and went close to having an immediate impact as first he headed a free kick inches wide and then he set up Bentancur, whose effort smacked off the right post.

Instead it was Udinese which scored as Szczęsny failed to deal with a simple-looking back pass from Leonardo Bonucci and Stefano Okaka stole the ball off him and set up Deulofeu.

The goal was initially ruled out but was given on video review. VAR was again to hurt Juventus deep into stoppage time as Ronaldo was seen to be offside when he headed in Federico Chiesa’s cross.


New Roma forward Tammy Abraham had a fantastic debut as he set up both his side’s goals and hit the crossbar.

Roma's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, second right, celebrates with teammate Tammy Abraham after scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Serie A soccer match between Roma and Fiorentina at Rome's Olympic Stadium, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Abraham, who joined from Chelsea for 40 million euros ($47 million) on Tuesday, received a standing ovation when he was substituted off in the 69th.