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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Red-hot Cristiano Ronaldo gunning for revenge against Valencia

Ronaldo's Champions League debut for Juventus in September was marred when he was controversially sent off

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring the first goal for Juventus against SPAL that took him to double figures for the Italian club. EPA
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring the first goal for Juventus against SPAL that took him to double figures for the Italian club. EPA

Cristiano Ronaldo is in hot form and gunning for revenge going into Tuesday's Uefa Champions League clash against Valencia after seeing seeing red against the Spaniards in the away leg, with Juventus needing a draw in Turin to book their ticket to the knockout rounds of the European competition.

"Happy to have helped the team on another important win," the 33-year-old Portuguese wrote on social media after scoring his 10th goal this season for the Italian giants in Saturday's 2-0 win over SPAL as Juventus opened up a record eight-point lead on the top of Serie A after 13 games.

Ronaldo was purchased by Juventus for €100 million (Dh418m) from Real Madrid last summer to help their quest for the elusive Champions League title after finishing runners-up twice in the past four seasons.

But he is also proving to be a key element in the team's race towards an eighth straight Serie A title, with nine goals and five assists of their 28 goals this season.

No Italian team have ever achieved 37 points from the first 13 games, with Ronaldo becoming the fastest forward in the club's history to score 10 goals in all competitions.

"I don't not care about the numbers. I don't count anything, the important thing is that we take it home in May," said manager Massimiliano Allegri.

Next up is a Group H return leg clash against Valencia, who beat Rayo Vallecano 3-0 in La Liga at the weekend, but are midtable in Spain.

Juventus are top of the group with nine points after four games, with Manchester United two points behind and the Spaniards on five.

Ronaldo's Champions League debut for Juventus in September was marred when he was controversially sent off in tears after half an hour for a small push on Valencia defender Jeison Murillo in Spain.

The red card was his first in 154 Champions League appearances, but Juventus still went on to beat the Spaniards 2-0.

Ronaldo scored his first Champions League goal for Juventus and the 121st of his career against Manchester United in Turin earlier this month before a stunning comeback gave his former club a 2-1 win to delay the Italians' passage to the last 16.

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Read more:

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In pictures: Cristiano Ronaldo scores 10th goal of season as Juventus open up nine-point lead in Serie A

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Despite his success on the pitch - leading the way in Europe with 31 goals this calendar year for both Real Madrid and Juventus - Ronaldo missed out on the Fifa World Player of the Year award to Croatia's Luca Modric.

There are also reports he has been snubbed for the final three in the Ballon d'Or for the first time since 2008, with the winner to be revealed in Paris on December 3.

Ronaldo - a five-time Ballon d'Or winner - spent much of last month vehemently denying allegations by former model Kathryn Mayorga that he raped her in Las Vegas in 2009.

He was left out by Portugal for the Uefa Nations League internationals, with the European champions becoming the first team to book their passage to the semi-finals.

Colombian teammate Juan Cuadrado warned that Ronaldo's focus remains on the pitch, as he bids to add to his five Champions League titles between Manchester United and Real Madrid.

"Cristiano Ronaldo's main quality is his professionalism," Cuadrado said. "He's hungry for victory and he's come to the right place. We all think the same way he does."

Juventus won the European Cup twice, in 1985 and 1996, but have finished runners-up seven times.