Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal proved decisive as Juventus defeated 10-man AC Milan 1-0 to win the Supercoppa Italiana in Jeddah.
The Portugal forward headed through the limp hands of Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma just after the hour, which was enough to settle a low-key affair.
Juve could have won by a more comfortable scoreline with Douglas Costa and Joao Cancelo having decent chances, while the Bianconeri twice correctly had goals ruled out for offside before Franck Kessie was deservedly sent off for Gennaro Gattuso’s side.
Milan, who only named Gonzalo Higuain among the substitutes amid rumours of a move to Chelsea, hit the crossbar through Patrick Cutrone, but that was as close as they came to denying Ronaldo the chance to celebrate his first piece of silverware as a Juve player.
61′ SIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!! @Cristiano HEADS JUVE IN FRONT IN THE #SUPERCUP!!!!! #JuveMilan [1-0] #ForzaJuve pic.twitter.com/ncfYPAGat2
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 16, 2019
Douglas Costa tried his luck in the fourth minute for Juve with a whipped strike from the right of the box that flashed past the far post, before Cancelo drilled a low shot across the face of goal and Blaise Matuidi rightly had a goal ruled out for offside.
Ronaldo went close with an acrobatic effort on the stroke of half-time but a turgid opening period ended goalless.
Milan had created little of note until Cutrone’s venomous left-footed strike on the turn crashed off the woodwork just after the restart.
But it was Ronaldo, shortly after stinging the palms of Donnarumma, who opened the scoring.
Miralem Pjanic hung up a perfect cross that Ronaldo headed through the hands of Donnarumma, who will likely feel he could have done better.
Paulo Dybala thought he had doubled the lead when side-footing home from Matuidi’s pass, only for the offside flag to deny Juve again, with Higuain introduced to the action soon after.
Any hopes of a Milan turnaround were ended when Kessie was dismissed after a VAR check for an ugly lunge on Emre Can, who made a fine tackle to deny Andrea Conti at the near post in Milan’s only glimmer of a threat in the closing stages.
What does it mean? Ronaldo adds to medal haul
It was always surely a matter of when not if Ronaldo won honours with Juve after joining in a €112million deal from Real Madrid in the close-season. This trophy will be small fry in comparison to the other titles he will have his eyes on, but an unbeaten first half to the season suggests that a Serie A crown at the very least is on the agenda, while Juve are in the hunt for Coppa Italia and Champions League glory.
Match-winner Ronaldo proves decisive again
Ronaldo has made a habit of producing the goods during a trophy-laden and prolific career and it was no different on this occasion. The ex-Manchester United forward had already threatened the Milan goal a couple of times before making his decisive contribution.
Kessie red compounds anonymous outing
Milan, save for a few rare moments, rarely troubled Juve and were particularly lacking against a star-studded midfield. Kessie’s rash challenge on Can, which fully merited the red card it yielded, was an apt way to end a difficult encounter.
Key Opta Facts
– Cristiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in his last seven finals.
– This is the Supercoppa Italiana with fewest goals since 2007 (Inter 0-1 Roma).
– Juventus have scored in all their last eight games against AC Milan.
– Milan have not scored in their last three games against Juventus.
– Milan have hit the woodwork 10 times this season IN all competitions.
Juventus return to domestic action at home to Chievo on Monday, while AC Milan will lick their wounds and attempt to rebound against Genoa on the same day.