Cristiano Ronaldo shines as Juventus reignite top-four hopes - European round-up

Plus: Lionel Messi led Barcelona to a quick-fire comeback to win 3-2 at Valencia, 10-man Lyon revived their Champions League hopes and Ajax are crowned Dutch champions for 35th time

Juventus revived their top-four hopes thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's double
Image: Juventus revived their top-four hopes thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's double

Two late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo earned Juventus a 2-1 comeback win against Udinese on Sunday to give the Turin club a precious three points in the Serie A top-four race.

Juve climbed into third place on 69 points, level with Atalanta in second and AC Milan in fourth, but two points ahead of fifth-placed Napoli.

The visiting defence was caught napping when Udinese wing back Nahuel Molina latched onto a quickly taken freekick to fire home the opener after 10 minutes.

But Rodrigo De Paul stuck out an arm to block a Ronaldo freekick with seven minutes remaining and the Portuguese converted the resulting penalty to end his run of three games without a goal.

Ronaldo strikes from the penalty spot for Juventus against Udinese
Image: Ronaldo strikes from the penalty spot for Juventus against Udinese

Ronaldo then headed in an 89th-minute winner from close range to take his tally to the season to a league-high 27 Serie A goals in 30 appearances.

But the striker's goals papered over the cracks of another poor performance from Andrea Pirlo's team.

"If we are satisfied with these 10 minutes, it means that we have not understood anything," Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci told Sky Italia. "We can't change gear and keep it up for the whole game, that is the hardest thing to understand.

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"Matches are decided by episodes, after this many games you need to pay attention to the details. We have dropped points too many times because of the details."

Juve knew before kick-off that they had the chance to gain ground in the top-four race after Atalanta and Napoli drew against Sassuolo and Cagliari respectively.

Udinese's Bram Nuytinck and Juventus' Juan Cuadrado vie for the ball
Image: Udinese's Bram Nuytinck and Juventus' Juan Cuadrado vie for the ball

But they got off to the worst possible start when De Paul found Molina with a quick freekick, and he drilled in a finish.

It was the tenth consecutive league game in which Juve have conceded ustration after heading wide from six yards and Paulo Dybala's deflected shot required a smart save from Simone Sat least one goal, their worst record since April 2010.

Juve's Weston McKennie was left punching the ground in frcuffet.

But the visitors' chances were few and far between until Ronaldo's decisive contribution in the closing stages.

De Paul's handball gave the Portuguese forward the chance to fire a penalty into the bottom corner, and the 36-year-old turned the game on its head when he nodded in an Adrien Rabiot cross at the back post.

Meanwhile, Nahitan Nandez scored a 94th-minute equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw for relegation battling Cagliari and dent Napoli's Champions League qualification hopes on Sunday.

Napoli are fourth in the standings, two points behind Atalanta and AC Milan, but Juventus can overtake them by beating Udinese later.

Victor Osimhen latched onto a dinked Lorenzo Insigne pass and guided home a finish after 13 minutes to put the home side in front.

La Liga: Messi nets twice in Barca turnaround over Valencia

Barcelona brushed off the disappointment of the Granada loss
Image: Barcelona brushed off the disappointment of the Granada loss

Lionel Messi led Barcelona to a quick-fire comeback to win 3-2 at Valencia on Sunday and keep the pressure on La Liga title rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

Barca fell behind in the 50th minute when Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista headed into an empty net from a corner after keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had stumbled to the ground in his attempt to come for the ball.

The Catalans, who had blown the chance to go top of the league with a shock 2-1 defeat at home by Granada on Thursday, reacted well to going behind and soon won a penalty thanks to a handball from Valencia's Toni Lato.

Messi saw his spot-kick saved by former team mate Jasper Cillessen but Valencia failed to clear the danger and the Argentine followed up to score on the second rebound in the 57th minute.

Lionel Messi was on target but also missed a penalty for Barca
Image: Lionel Messi was on target but also missed a penalty for Barca

Antoine Griezmann gave Barca the lead six minutes later, also netting on the rebound after Cillessen could only parry a header from Frenkie de Jong, while Messi looked to have clinched the points in the 69th by firing a freekick in off the post.

Valencia got back into contention out of nowhere when midfielder Carlos Soler scored with an unstoppable strike from long range in the 83rd and had a couple of half chances to equalise but Barca clung on for the win.

Ronald Koeman's side are third on 74 points with four games remaining, level with second-placed Real Madrid and two behind leaders Atletico Madrid after both sides won on Saturday. Fourth-placed Sevilla, on 70, host Athletic Bilbao on Monday.

Ligue 1: Cherki late goal earns Lyon win at Monaco

Ten-man Lyon revived their Champions League hopes while almost ending Monaco's Ligue 1 title dreams as substitute Rayan Cherki earned them a last-gasp 3-2 win in the principality on Sunday.

After Maxence Caqueret had been sent off with 20 minutes remaining, Cherki found the back of the net in the last minute to add to goals by Memphis Depay and Marcelo, putting fourth-placed Lyon on 70 points with three games left.

Monaco, who had opened the scoring through Kevin Volland and levelled for 2-2 in the 86th courtesy of a Wissam Ben Yedder penalty, are one point ahead in third place.

They now trail leaders Lille by five points and second-placed Paris Saint-Germain by four after both won their respective games on Saturday.

Eredivisie: Ajax crowned champions

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag and his players celebrate clinching the title
Image: Ajax coach Erik ten Hag and his players celebrate clinching the title

Ajax were crowned Dutch league champions in emphatic style on Sunday following a 4-0 home thrashing of lowly Emmen that gives them an unassailable lead and extends their record number of domestic championship wins to 35.

Jurrien Timber, Sebastien Haller, Devyne Rensch and Davy Klaassen all scored as Ajax overwhelmed their relegation-threatened opponents, who had come into the fixture on the back of three straight wins but were no match for the champions.

The victory moves Ajax to 79 points from 31 games, 15 ahead of second-placed PSV Eindhoven, who play later on Sunday at home to Heerenveen but have only four matches remaining.

Ajax supporters celebrate as their team secured the Eredivisie title
Image: Ajax supporters celebrate as their team secured the Eredivisie title

Ajax retain the title they won two years ago after the championship was called off in the 2019-20 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Amsterdam club were joint top of the table at the time with AZ Alkmaar after 25 matches in the 34-game season.

The title win caps an excellent week for Ajax after coach Erik ten Hag also signed a new contract to keep him at the club until June 2023.

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