Ronaldo’s dramatic debut ends with goalkeeper in hospital

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              Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo reaches for the ball during the Serie A soccer match between Chievo Verona and Juventus, at the Bentegodi Stadium in Verona, Italy, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
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MILAN (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo’s Serie A debut was marked not by a goal but by accidentally putting the opposing team’s goalkeeper in hospital.

With the score locked at 2-2 late on in Juventus’ match at Chievo Verona, Ronaldo collided with Stefano Sorrentino in a chaotic penalty area.

Sorrentino was knocked out cold briefly and there were an anxious few minutes as he received immediate treatment before being substituted.

The 39-year-old goalkeeper was immediately taken to the hospital and released on Sunday morning with a fractured nose, bruising to his left shoulder and whiplash.

Sorrentino was able to joke about the incident, posting a photo on Twitter with the caption: “Thanks for your messages of support, affection and esteem. We are a fantastic group and yesterday we almost achieved the feat: while CR7 got me in full!”

He also later revealed on the social media site that Ronaldo had been in touch: “I received a message of support and wishing me a speedy recovery from Cristiano Ronaldo. Thanks legend!”

Sorrentino pulled off several fine saves to deny Ronaldo and his Juventus teammates — although Chievo went on to lose the match 3-2 following Federico Bernardeschi’s stoppage-time winner.

“Before coming onto the pitch I told myself I would have to try to stop him in every way possible,” Sorrentino said on Italian television. “I did that in the real sense of the word.”

During the commotion Juventus was awarded a goal using goal-line technology, then it was disallowed a few minutes later on video review.

Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini celebrated when the goal was given, causing widespread outrage as Sorrentino was still receiving urgent treatment.

“Paulo wrote to me, apologizing because he hadn’t realized the seriousness of the situation and he was celebrating for a goal that I didn’t even know I had conceded,” Sorrentino said.

BOATENG’S BACK

Having launched his rap career with the release of his first single “King,” Kevin-Prince Boateng is beginning to prove he can once again become Serie A royalty.

Boateng returned to Italian football in July, signing for Sassuolo in one of the surprise moves of the offseason.

He had previously played for AC Milan in 2010-13, and for six months at the beginning of 2016 after having his contract terminated by German club Schalke.

Playing in a more forward role, the 31-year-old Boateng inspired Sassuolo to a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan on Sunday — the upset of the opening weekend.

He imposed himself physically up front and created space for the wingers. Boateng, who has already scored for Sassuolo in the Italian Cup, also hit the post with a swivelling volley.

“(Boateng is) very important in the locker room,” Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi said. “If they (players) need help communicating in English, German, French or Spanish, he’s always on hand to make them feel more comfortable.”

ZAJC ATTACK

One of the potential stars of this season emerged on Sunday as Miha Zajc had a stellar performance in Empoli’s 2-0 win over Cagliari.

Zajc was at the heart of every Empoli move and set up both goals for Rade Krunic and Ciccio Caputo.

The 24-year-old Zajc has already played in Serie A as he was signed from Olimpija Ljubljana in January 2017, in Empoli’s last season in the top flight.

Zajc made only five Serie A appearances but was instrumental in last season’s promotion campaign which ended with Empoli going up as champion.