A quick hat-trick for Cristiano Ronaldo was still not enough for Juventus’ third place to close at Inter Milan, who managed to increase their lead at the top of Serie A on Sunday.
Inter snatched a 2-1 victory in the relegation-threatened Torino and moved nine points from Milan’s second place after the Rossoneri lost 1-0 at home to Napoli.
The nine-time defender of the champion Juventus beat Cagliari 3: 1, but remained 10 points behind Inter, although he played a game less.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick from the first half put him on the road at Cagliari. This was the perfect response to the criticism that the Juventus striker and his teammates had entered after the Bianconeri were expelled from the Champions League by Porto in the round of 16 earlier this week.
“The criticism didn’t bother me – what worried me was being expelled from the Champions League because I didn’t play well,” said Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
“Then you have to answer on the field. Cristiano did just that, with a perfect hat trick. “
However, Ronaldo was lucky not to be sent off for a few minutes after heading into the corner for his first goal in the ninth minute.
The Juventus striker went high to meet Federico Chiesa’s cross and caught Alessio Cranho in the face, leaving Cagliari’s goalkeeper with a slit to his chin. But Ronaldo was shown only a yellow card.
The two clashed again in the 25th minute when Cranio tripped Ronaldo, who doubled his score with a powerful penalty.
And Ronaldo finished his hat-trick seven minutes later, controlling Chieza’s cross and made a little shim before turning into the far side of the net.
This was the so-called perfect hat trick, as the Portuguese striker scored with a header, right foot and left.
The total number of Ronaldo took 770 goals in his career, surpassing the official total of the Brazilian great Pele. Both wrote messages marking the case on social media.
Giovanni Simeone consoled Cagliari in the second half.
(With AP inputs.)