MILAN, Italy– Cristiano
Ronaldo’s injury-time penalty grabbed Juventus a 1-1 draw at AC Milan in their Italian
Cup semi-final, first leg on Thursday as his incredible scoring run continued.
The 35-year-old has now scored 12 goals in his last eight
games in all competitions after the Portuguese ultimately got the better of old
rival Zlatan Ibrahimovic despite being largely anonymous for much of the match.
Milan paid for Theo Hernandez’s 71st-minute red card as they
failed to close out a game they had dominated for long periods and led through
Juve will now be favourites to finish the job in the second
leg at the Allianz Stadium next month, with a final against either Inter Milan
or Napoli up for grabs.
The hosts started strongly, with Ibrahimovic heading over
the crossbar inside the first minute.
He continued to be a threat to his former club early on, but
could only direct an ambitious backheel flick beyond the far post, before
picking up a booking which will see him miss the second leg through suspension.
Juventus finally produced their first shot in anger nine
minutes before half-time, as Juan Cuadrado saw his low strike well saved by
Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Milan started the second half as they did the first, on the
front foot, but Rebic was denied an opening goal by Gianluigi Buffon.
Samu Castillejo also called Buffon into action seven minutes
after the break, with the 42-year-old goalkeeper able to make a comfortable
Stefano Pioli’s side finally made the breakthrough in the
61st minute, though, as Castillejo’s clipped cross was volleyed home at the
back post by Rebic.
Juventus were gifted a way back into the game with 18
minutes remaining as Hernandez was handed a second yellow card for a late
challenge on Paulo Dybala.
That prompted the 13-time winners to belatedly pile some
pressure on the home goal, and Donnarumma had to be alert to keep out Matthijs
de Ligt’s header.
Dybala curled wide with five minutes remaining, but Juve
were awarded a spot-kick in the final minute of normal time as VAR spotted a
handball by Davide Calabria.
Ronaldo stepped up and slammed the ball down the middle to
score his 24th goal of the season.
Six minutes of injury-time gave the visitors hope of
clinching an unlikely victory, but Milan at least held on for a draw to keep
their bid for a first Cup crown since 2003 alive.
On Wednesday, Napoli struck first blood in their semi-final
as Gennaro Gattuso’s men downed Serie A leaders Inter Milan 1-0 at the San
Siro, with Fabian Ruiz scoring the winner.
The last-four second legs will take place on March 4 and 5,
with the final on May 13 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.