MILAN: Cristiano Ronaldo converted a 96th-minute penalty as Juventus defeated Thiago Motta’s Genoa 2-1 to reclaim top spot in Serie A on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), while Napoli were left seething after conceding a disputed late equalizer against Atalanta.
Ronaldo sat out the 1-1 draw at Lecce over the weekend but Juve looked set to drop more points on his return in Turin as Christian Kouame’s fluke equalizer cancelled out a header from Leonardo Bonucci.
The Portuguese forward saw a stoppage-time strike ruled out by VAR for offside before he won a last-gasp penalty after he was fouled by Toni Sanabria.
Ronaldo drilled the spot-kick low beyond Ionut Radu for his fifth league goal of the season to send Maurizio Sarri’s Juve back above Inter Milan at the summit.
Genoa, in their second game under Motta, played most of the second half with 10 men after Francesco Cassata was sent off, while Juve substitute Adrien Rabiot was dismissed late on for two bookable offences.
Atalanta twice fought back from a goal behind to hold Napoli to a 2-2 draw at the San Paolo, where a fiery ending resulted in red cards for Carlo Ancelotti and his assistant.
Josip Ilicic struck a contentious 86th-minute equalizer that was upheld following a lengthy VAR review, as Napoli appealed for a penalty.
Napoli forward Fernando Llorente tumbled to the ground after jostling with Simon Kjaer in the Atalanta area before the visitors countered and scored through Ilicic.
A five-minute interruption followed before the referee awarded the goal without reviewing the incident on the touchline monitor.
“I consider what happened an attack on my professionalism, my players and my club,” Ancelotti said.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was livid with the officiating.
“If there is VAR it’s pointless creating eight minutes of additional time because all that happens is pushing and shouting,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“And what is this buffoonery from the referee who kicks out a gentleman like Ancelotti?
“We’re fed up. Without us the referees would be peeling potatoes. We’re tired of paying for this standard of refereeing.”
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Nikola Maksimovic had headed Napoli into the lead on 16 minutes, but Remo Freuler leveled just before half time when his shot squirmed through goalkeeper Alex Meret.
Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik hit the post and crossbar before putting Napoli back on top on 71 minutes when he raced onto a Fabian Ruiz pass and rounded Pierluigi Gollini.
However, Ilicic leveled and nearly grabbed a winner in stoppage time for Atalanta, who stayed third but now trail leaders Juve by five points.