Juventus beats Milan to win Italian Super Cup in Jeddah

Photo: AFP

Amid a background of protests and political outrage, Juventus beat AC Milan 1-0 in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to win the Italian Super Cup for a record eighth time.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal of the match to win his first trophy with Juventus.

It was Ronaldo's fourth goal in his past four matches as he shows little sign of being affected - on the pitch at least - by a case of alleged rape involving an American woman.

Ronaldo has been asked by police to provide a DNA sample in an investigation of the allegation by Kathryn Mayorga, a former model and schoolteacher, that he raped her in his Las Vegas hotel penthouse in 2009 and paid her to keep quiet.

Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.

Milan had to play the final 16 minutes with 10 men after midfielder Franck Kessie was sent off following a poor tackle on Emre Can, which saw him stamp on the Juventus midfielder.

Italian politicians and human rights activists had objected to the game being played in Saudi Arabia, citing the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

But the match went ahead at a sold-out King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah in front of more than 61,000 fans, including many women who were only allowed into Saudi sports stadiums a year ago for the first time to watch soccer matches.

Last June, the Italian league announced it agreed to a deal with Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority for three of the next five Super Cups to be played in the kingdom.

The deal will provide more than 20 million euros ($23 million) to Serie A and 3.5 million euros to participating clubs.

Gonzalo Higuain, who is on loan at Milan from Juventus, had also been a focus of the buildup to the match ahead of a potential move to Chelsea, but the Argentina forward was named on the bench against his parent club.

Blaise Matuidi had a goal for Juventus disallowed for offside while Ronaldo saw an acrobatic effort bounce narrowly over the crossbar in an even first half which also saw Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny pull off a good save to deny Hakan Calhanoglu.

Milan almost took the lead immediately after halftime but Patrick Cutrone's effort came off the crossbar.

The Rossoneri were left to rue that missed opportunity as Ronaldo broke the deadlock in the 61st minute.

Miralem Pjanic floated a ball over the top and Ronaldo headed it past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Juventus had another goal disallowed for offside but any chance Milan had of getting back into the match all but evaporated after Kessie was sent off in the 74th.

Referee Luca Banti initially showed Kessie only a yellow card but changed it to a red after seeing the late tackle again on video review.

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