Cristiano Ronaldo’s moment of fury as Juventus legacy hangs in the balance

The world was a different place a year ago.

Just days before the coronavirus pandemic saw football grind to a halt, Cristiano Ronaldo was at his mesmerising best.

After a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 tie, Juventus ran out 3-0 winners in Turin to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Typically, the comeback came via a Ronaldo hat-trick.

"This was why Juventus brought me here, to help do things that they have never done before," said Ronaldo after the game.

”This is the mentality you need to win in the Champions League.”

Ronaldo was as confident but also as self-aware as ever.

He was right.

After seven straight Serie A titles, there was only one reason to pay £88million, the highest fee ever for a player over 30, to bring Ronaldo to Turin.

The move was solely down to the fact he guided Real Madrid to the top prize in club football four times in the space of five seasons.

Fast forward 12 months and, in amongst the chaos that has ensued due to coronavirus, Ronaldo’s legacy in Italy is hanging by a thread.

The Old Lady lost the first-leg of their last-16 tie with Porto, but Federico Chiesa’s away goal puts them in a solid position despite a 2-1 defeat.

The tie is hanging in the balance ahead of the second leg – and a moment of fury from Ronaldo late on showed he is well aware of what is at stake.

Deep into stoppage time, Ronaldo controlled a long ball into the box, flicking it backwards and looking to turn his man inside out.

Instead, he was caught by a clumsy Zaidu challenge.

The referee waved play on and VAR remarkably did not intervene.

On Sky Sport Italia, Fabio Capello and Alessandro Del Piero claimed it was a “clear penalty” and there could be “no arguments”.

Over on beIN Sports, Ruud Gullit and Arsene Wenger agreed.

Ronaldo was understandably outraged.

He was seen shouting at official Carlos del Cerro Grande whilst on the floor and his protests continued after the final whistle.

By this stage of his glittering career, Ronaldo is well aware of the fine margins that decide knockout games at the highest level.

He is also well aware that, whilst they still have a chance to progress, the penalty decision that did not go their way could be one that makes all the difference.

This week’s events have led to plenty of talk of the changing of the guard – Kylian Mbappe downed Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp whilst Ronaldo was quiet in Portugal.

Now 36, it is now or never for arguably the greatest player of all-time if he is to achieve exactly what he was paid by Juventus to do.

On a personal level, his overall legacy is untouchable but a sixth Champions League with a third different club would only add another layer to his greatness.

From a Juventus standpoint, this is the year they must finally conquer Europe for the first time since 1995 in order for Ronaldo to cement his legacy in Turin.

One day, he might look back at last night's penalty decision that did not go his way and wonder what could have been.

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