Sunday, May 20, 2018

Real Madrid (4) 1-3 (3) Juventus: Controversial Ronaldo penalty concludes stunning Bernabeu clash

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Cristiano Ronaldo netted a controversial last minute penalty as Real Madrid secured their progression to the semi-finals of the Champions League on a stunning evening at the Santiago Bernanbeu.

The hosts were poor on the night and Juventus silenced the Spaniards as they roared into a 3-0 lead thanks to a brace from Mario Mandžukić and a close range finish from Blaise Matuidi following a Keylor Navas mistake. Ronaldo though stepped up in the final seconds after a debatable award from Michael Oliver.

Juve start in the perfect way

Just as quickly as it took for Manchester City to find the net against Liverpool last night, Juventus edged in front via Mandžukić. Douglas Costa produced a combative tackle to release former Real Madrid man Sami Khedira down the right side. The German midfielder then looped an excellent cross towards the back post with Mandžukić duly nodding past Keylor Navas.

The Costa Rican stopper then had to be at his best to cut out a dangerous cross from Costa with Gonzalo Higuaín lurking close ready to tap home.

Real Madrid finally carve out a chance

It took a while for the hosts to create an opportunity but fantastic inter-play between Luka Modrić and Gareth Bale saw the latter get free but a low save from Gianluigi Buffon preserved Juventus’ advantage. The Welshman then put a clever back-heeled effort just wide. The hosts did eventually have the ball in the net through Isco as he converted from a Ronaldo shot that cannoned off of Buffon but the referee ruled the Spaniard offside.

Mandžukić should really have done better from a corner as the ball hit his shins when unmarked but Navas collected easily.

Max Allegri made an early change with Mattia De Sciglio being replaced by Stephan Lichtsteiner, in what appeared to be a tactical decision.

Italian champions steal a march just before the break

Isco had one of the better chances of the first-half for Real Madrid as he found space on the left-side of the penalty area. The Spaniard cut inside and aimed for the top corner but his shot whistled over the crossbar. The 25-year-old was then played through by an excellent reverse-ball from Ronaldo and looked sure to score but shot straight at Buffon.

Juventus then produced a carbon copy of their first strike to again reduce Real’s comprehensive aggregate victory. Lichtsteiner was afforded too much space on the right and crossed towards Mandžukić. The Croatian again nodded downwards into the goal with Navas failing to keep the ball out despite getting a touch.

The hosts almost found a foothold just before the break as Raphael Varane connected with a Toni Kroos free kick. His header however crashed against the crossbar.

Dramatic changes from Zidane but Allegri’s men complete stunning turnaround

Zinedine Zidane made two changes at the break. Bale was surprisingly substituted, alongside Casemiro. Marco Asensio and Lucas Vázquez were introduced.

Ronaldo tested Buffon with a sweeping low effort but the shot was held comfortably by the veteran Italian goalkeeper. Navas did equally as well as Higuaín spun and shot on the edge of the penalty area.

The Madrid keeper though made a huge mistake minutes later as the Italians wiped out the hosts aggregate lead. Costa crossed and the Costa Rican appeared to be catching the ball without any worries. Nonetheless, he fumbled with ball falling at the feet of Blaise Matuidi. It was an easy task then for the Frenchman as he tapped into the empty net.

Unbelieveable close to an encapsulating tie

Isco continued to be Real Madrid’s most promising player and his deflected strike forced Buffon into a smart save. Varane then blasted wide of goal on the turn.

Ronaldo had a great chance in the closing stages of normal time but could only nod over the bar. However, he did not pass up his next opportunity as the hosts were awarded a penalty in the closing seconds as Mehdi Benatia appeared to foul Vázquez. Michael Oliver pointed at the spot. Buffon was visibly distraught and was given a straight red card for his protestations.

Wojciech Szczęsny came on to the field but could not do anything as Ronaldo thundered an emphatic effort into the top corner to secure Real Madrid’ds progression to the semi-finals.

Final Thoughts

The Champions League just keeps offering yet more and more drama. On the night, the visitors were by far the better side. Zidane’s troops offered next to nothing on an amazing night and Juventus were clearly worth their lead.

The character of the Spaniards has to be praised though to keep battling until the final minutes under considerable pressure and make sure of their inclusion in the draw for the semi-finals.

Match Report

Real Madrid: Navas (5); Marcelo (5), Vallejo (6), Varane (6), Carvajal (5); Casemiro (5) (Asensio (7), 45′), Modrić (6) (Kovačić (N/A), 75′), Kroos (6); Isco (7), Bale (5) (Vázquez (6), 45′), Ronaldo (7).

Juventus: Buffon (6); Alex Sandro (7), Chiellini (7), Benatia (6), De Sciglio (6) (Lichtsteiner (7), 17′); Pjanić (7), Matuidi (8), Khedira (7); Mandžukić (9), Higuaín (7) (Szczęsny (N/A), 90+6′), Costa (7).

Goals: Mandžukić (2′, 37′), Matuidi (60′), Ronaldo PEN (90+7′)

Referee: Michael Oliver

Yellow Cards: Pjanić (17′), Carvajal (22′), Mandžukić (29′), Lichtsteiner  (36′), Alex Sandro (67′), Costa (73′), Marcelo (81′), Benatia (90′), Ronaldo (90+9′)

Red Cards: Buffon (90+3′)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is currently a second-year football journalism student at the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately four years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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