Chris Smalling has far exceeded expectations after an impressive start to his loan spell at Roma – but he met his match in Cristiano Ronaldo on Sunday evening.
The 30-year-old Manchester United centre-back was deemed surplus to requirements by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last summer and completed a temporary move to the Italian capital as he looked to revive his stuttering career.
Smalling has quickly won Roma fans over with a string of outstanding performances and the England international has even worn the captain’s armband this season.
However, Smalling struggled against Torino last weekend as Roma were beaten 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. The centre-back gave away a late penalty after handling inside the box and Andrea Belotti made no mistake from 12 yards.
And Smalling had another moment to forget this weekend…
Cristiano Ronaldo v. Chris Smalling’s can only end one way….
— Strive Sport (@strivesport) January 12, 2020
Roma faced top-of-the table Juventus on home soil and went behind after only three minutes as Merih Demiral fired a powerful volley past Pau Lopez to break the deadlock.
Ronaldo doubled Juve’s lead from the penalty spot in the 10th minute and the Portugal icon followed this up by making a fool out of Smalling with an audacious piece of skill.
After taking the ball down with the deftest of touches, Ronaldo spun past Smalling with a Berbatov-esque turn and swung a dangerous ball into the box.
While the move ultimately came to nothing, Ronaldo’s skill sent Twitter into meltdown, with many sending their condolences to Smalling.
Some even joked that Ronaldo had sent the defender back to Maidstone with the turn…
Cristiano Ronaldo just sent Chris Smalling back to Maidstone 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/DLB3dSE3L2
— Transfer News (@TrustyTransfers) January 12, 2020
Cristiano Ronaldo just ended Chris Smalling’s career. pic.twitter.com/xusDLywQys
— World Cup (@FlFAWC2018) January 12, 2020
Cristiano Ronaldo just humiliated Chris Smalling’s career. pic.twitter.com/BSSzMLodL7
— Clintmeks (@meksclint) January 12, 2020
Diego Perotti converted from the spot – after Alex Sandro’s handball – to give Roma a glimmer of hope with 20 minutes remaining of the clash.
But Juventus held on for a 2-1 victory to maintain their two-point lead over Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A table.
The result means Roma sit behind fourth-placed Atalanta ahead of their trip to Genoa next weekend.