Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to help Juventus fight back to win 2-1 at Inter Milan in the first leg of their Italian Cup semifinal. Ronaldo netted a penalty and took advantage of a horrendous defensive error on Tuesday to give his side the advantage ahead of the second leg.
Lautaro Martinez had given Inter an early lead. Napoli hosts Atalanta in the other semifinal on Wednesday, with the return legs scheduled for next week. The final is on May 19.
Inter was without key forward Romelu Lukaku for the first leg. He was suspended for accumulated cards following his spat with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in last week’s quarterfinal win over AC Milan.
Inter had beaten Juventus 2-0 two weeks ago in Serie A and coach Antonio Conte was looking to maintain supremacy over his former club. That seemed to be going to plan when Martinez slotted Nicol Barella’s cross under Gianluigi Buffon in the ninth minute.
But Juventus was awarded a penalty when Ashley Young appeared to haul back Juan Cuadrado, and Ronaldo struck the spot kick into the roof of the net to level in the 26th.
Juventus completed the comeback nine minutes later. Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni and Samir Handanovic got into a mixup after the goalkeeper had rushed off his line, and Ronaldo pounced to race behind them and deposit into an empty net, off the base of the far post.
Looking back on the league meeting with Inter, Pirlo told Rai Sport: “We weren’t in that game, but it served as a lesson for us. From there we regrouped, worked on the errors and more victories arrived. But tonight was the first round, there’s another game to come and it’s played over 180 minutes. Nothing is done yet.
“The guys were great, they faced Inter with the right attitude from the first minute. We went behind, but we continued to play. There was a great reaction from the team.”