Juventus took a small step at the top of Serie A thanks to a giant leap from Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward scored a spectacular header in his side’s 2-1 victory over Sampdoria, launching himself two-and-a-half meters into the air for the game’s decisive goal.
Ronaldo appeared to hang in the air as he lined up the header, something opposition manager Claudio Ranieri compared to the sort of vaulting athleticism usually seen on a basketball court rather than a football pitch.
“When (Juventus) scored goals like this, we just have to admire them as two masterpieces. Ronaldo scored in NBA style – he was up there for an hour and a half,” Ranieri told Sky Sports Italia.
Paulo Dybala gave Juventus the lead with a superb volley from the edge of the area, before Gianluca Caprari took advantage of sloppy defending to level the scores.
But Ronaldo’s intervention on the stroke of halftime was enough to seal the victory, moving Juventus three points clear at the top of Serie A.
“His feet were higher than the crossbar … it’s only a slight exaggeration. Ridiculous leap,” tweeted former England striker and pundit Gary Linekar.
Ronaldo reached a height of 2.56 meters when he made contact with the ball, according to the Juventus website, having jumped 71 centimeters off the ground.
“The goals were both great, Ronaldo remained in the air for an infinite time,” said Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri.
“I think the first half was very good, similar to the level we played against Udinese (on Sunday). In the second half it was a bit more confusing, but we didn’t take many risks.”
Comparisons to the NBA weren’t lost on Ronaldo, who tweeted “CR7 AIR JORDAN!!” after the match in reference to Michael Jordan’s gravity-beating slam dunks.
Juventus is on course to win a ninth-straight Serie A title midway through the domestic season, although second-placed Inter Milan has a game in hand over Sarri’s side.