‘Our growth has stalled a little in the last three weeks’: Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri admits to struggles after salvaging draw at AC Milan
- Cristiano Ronaldo scored controversial late equaliser against 10-man AC Milan
- VAR opted to award a contentious handball in Coppa Italia semi-final first leg
- The 1-1 draw followed a 2-1 league defeat against Hellas Verona on Saturday
Under-fire Maurizio Sarri insisted he was not worried after faltering Juventus almost slipped to a third defeat in four games on Thursday night.
A stoppage-time Cristiano Ronaldo penalty rescued a 1-1 draw at 10-man AC Milan in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final.
Following on from the 2-1 league defeat by Hellas Verona on Saturday, Sarri was asked if he was worried by Juve’s current form.
Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri was facing the prospect of back to back defeats on Thursday
According to football-italia.net, Sarri told Rai Sport: ‘I am not worried, as the only real worries in life are your health. It seems a normal phase to be going through, it’s unthinkable for a team to be a continual ascent. This is a sport, so much depends on the physical and psychological conditions of so many players.
‘Our growth has stalled a little in the last three weeks, we concede avoidable goals. Having said that, we’ve conceded only two more than the best defence in Serie A, so it’s not that much of an issue.’
Aaron Ramsey featured in midfielder despite doubts about his future at the club.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s bicycle kick was hit into the hand of AC Milan’s Davide Calabria (right)
The decision went to VAR and the referee changed his mind and controversially gave a penalty
He added: ‘Miralem Pjanic had a good game, so did Ramsey for some time, but he then fell away in the second half. Ronaldo was left too isolated from his teammates to be decisive this evening, but I did not see the midfielders moving it slowly at all.’
Ante Rebic’s volley gave the hosts a deserved lead after 61 minutes, following a string of good saves from veteran Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
But Stefano Pioli’s side were reduced to 10 men for the final 18 minutes when defender Theo Hernandez was shown a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Paulo Dybala.
Ronaldo made it 11 straight games in which he has scored to rescue a draw for Juventus
The Portuguese got a vital away goal in the club’s Coppa Italia semi-final against AC Milan
Juventus were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review, which showed that a Ronaldo scissor kick had struck the arm of Milan defender Davide Calabria.
The Portuguese forward smashed the spot-kick into the roof of the net to earn his side a draw ahead of the second leg in Turin on March 4.
Napoli defeated Inter Milan 1-0 in the first leg of the other semi-final in Milan.
Ante Rebic had earlier volleyed Milan in front and they were the better side on the night
Theo Hernandez was sent off for a second yellow card and Milan were reduced to 10 men