Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brilliant hat-trick as Juventus produced a stunning Champions League comeback, winning 3-0 at home against Atletico Madrid to progress to the quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate.
A VAR review denied Juve a fourth-minute opener, but Ronaldo’s first header of the game gave them hope and the Serie A leaders drew level in the tie thanks to the Portugal superstar’s aerial power again.
The excellent Federico Bernardeschi then drove into the penalty area and was brought down by Angel Correa, with Ronaldo stepping up with four minutes to go to convert the spot-kick and down Atletico yet again.
Ronaldo has now scored 25 goals against Atletico in his career, with the former Real Madrid player’s treble on Tuesday denying his old club’s city rivals the chance to play in this season’s final at their Wanda Metropolitano home.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) March 12, 2019
Juve thought they had scored an early goal when Giorgio Chiellini struck from close range, only for referee Bjorn Kuipers to give a foul for Ronaldo’s challenge on goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Koke fired a warning shot over the crossbar at the other end but Juve took a 27th-minute lead. Bernardeschi popped up on the left to deliver a wonderful inswinging cross that allowed Ronaldo to overpower Juanfran at the back post and beat Oblak with a downward header.
Oblak tipped over a header from a bloodied Chiellini but Atletico almost levelled on the stroke of half-time, Alvaro Morata only able to nod Koke’s right-wing centre over the top.
That miss was punished four minutes after the restart when goal-line technology ruled Oblak failed to keep out another Ronaldo header, Joao Cancelo this time providing the cross.
With the tie level, Juve smelled blood and sent on Paulo Dybala and Moise Kean, the teenager drilling a massive chance wide of the far post moments after his introduction.
Bernardeschi had dropped into a deeper role following the attacking changes but the winger forged forward and drew a clumsy foul from Correa after a dazzling solo run, Kuipers pointing to the spot.
Ronaldo was never going to miss, sending Oblak the wrong way to ensure Juve marched on at Atletico’s expense, Diego Simeone’s side going out of the competition after failing to record a shot on target in the second leg.
8 – Cristiano Ronaldo has scored eight Champions League hat-tricks, the joint-most in the competition alongside Lionel Messi. Titans. pic.twitter.com/q2b0equOYb
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 12, 2019
What does it mean? Investment in Ronaldo pays off
Massimiliano Allegri recently suggested Juve are suffering from a Champions League “obsession”, but the purchase of Ronaldo from Madrid for €112million was a clear statement of intent in Europe.
Juve have had plenty of heartache in this tournament in recent years but Ronaldo, four times a winner with Madrid in the last five years, dragged them over the line. That is why they bought him and another Champions League comeback was completed in style.
Ronaldo does it again
The striker had only scored once in this season’s Champions League prior to the game, but he always delivers on the big occasion. Atletico know that more than most – Ronaldo was on target in the 2014 final against them – while an eighth Champions League hat-trick draws him level once more with Lionel Messi.
Griezmann lacks influence
With Atletico under so much pressure, they needed Antoine Griezmann to deliver magic from somewhere. But the Atletico talisman simply could not get involved in the game at all and Morata was left isolated in his battle with twin towers Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
The LaLiga title race continues this weekend with Atletico away to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Juve, 18 points clear in Serie A, go to Genoa a day later.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!