Real Madrid 1-3 Juventus (Agg 4-3): Cristiano Ronaldo Scores 97th Minute Penalty To End Thriller

Rik Sharma
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s 97th-minute penalty sent Real Madrid through to the Champions League semi-finals, crushing a devastated Juventus who fought back from their three-goal first leg deficit.

With Lucas Vazquez felled in the final minute of stoppage time and Gianluigi Buffon sent off for arguing with the referee in the aftermath, Ronaldo stepped up to slam home and send Madrid through.

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Juventus took less than two minutes to go ahead, with Douglas Costa and Sami Khedira combining to set up Mario Mandzukic, who headed home at the back post.

Marcelo and Toni Kroos came close for Madrid as they took control, while veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made fine saves from Gareth Bale and Isco as the hosts fought to avoid the fate arch-rivals Barcelona met against Italian opposition on Tuesday.

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However, despite Madrid’s pressure, it was Juventus who grabbed the next goal, Mandzukic heading home his second from Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross.

Raphael Varane struck the bar with a header from Kroos’s ball just before the interval as Madrid still battled hard, but were betrayed by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

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The Costa Rican stopper spilt a cross from the right and Blaise Matuidi was on hand to force the ball home from close range in the 61st minute.

With the clock ticking down it seemed Madrid were heading out, but Ronaldo gave them a late reprieve from the spot.

Here are the five key talking points…

1) That man, again

For all the world it looked like Cristiano Ronaldo’s scoring streak was going to end. The Portuguese forward had a lifeless game, failing to make an impact.

And yet somehow, it was he who had the final say. It seems Ronaldo always does in the Champions League.

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Having not had a sniff for much of the night, Ronaldo was given the ball, seven minutes into three minutes’ stoppage time, after Lucas Vazquez was fouled in the area by Benatia.

If there was any player in the history of football that you want taking that penalty, despite his performance, it’s Ronaldo.

And the striker delivered, slamming his penalty into the top right corner to send Madrid through to the Champions League semi-final.

He continued his scoring streak too, now up to 11 consecutive matches. Ronaldo is dreaming of retaining the trophy for the third year running, and so are Real.

2) Buffon bows out in chaos

Legendary Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon may never win this competition. He may never appear in it again.

“This is a possibility,” said Buffon, when asked if this would be his final game in the tournament. The Italian is out of contract at the end of the season and has not announced his plans for the future.

If this is his final game on Europe’s biggest stage then at least it was one to remember.

The 40-year-old guardian made some sensational stops to keep Madrid at bay and keep Juventus’s Champions League dream alive.

Buffon kept Bale’s effort out from close range and produced a phenomenal stop to stop a blasted Isco effort from an angle.

The veteran denied Ronaldo with a fine stop too and then when Isco turned home the rebound was given a deserved break by the linesman’s raised flag.

Then, deep into stoppage time, after Benatia gave away the penalty for a foul on Vazquez, he lost his head. With his dream being taken away from him, Buffon went face to face with the referee and was shown the red card for dissent.

Ronaldo drilled the penalty past Wojciech Szczesny and that was that.

3) Sergio Ramos’ stock rises

Real Madrid’s captain and their best defender were suspended for this game and the impact that had on the team was evident from the first minute.

While there is a school of thought which says Ramos is a poor defender and only has his goals to thank for his world-class status, its students were left scratching their head after this game.

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Without Ramos, Varane looked lost, while the less said about youngster Jesus Vallejo the better.

When you play with full-backs as committed to attacking as Marcelo and Dani Carvajal, you need defenders who can make snap decisions and commit to the 100 percent.

That’s what Ramos does and while sometimes he’s caught out and given red cards, it’s a vital skill and one which Madrid missed here.

“Given the result, maybe it’s for the best that I’ll miss the second leg,” joked Ramos after his booking in Turin, although the laughter stopped for good after Juventus’ third goal.

If there was anyone Madrid needed on the pitch in the final stages it was Ramos—and this time yes, because of his penchant for late goals.

4) Bale out

Zinedine Zidane made a statement at half-time. After a poor first-half performance that saw his team go in two goals down, the coach took action.

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Off went Gareth Bale, on came Lucas Vazquez. It was Zidane saying he was right all along, and everybody else was wrong.

During the past few weeks, he has been questioned over his use of Bale, mainly from the bench, or as a starter in inconsequential games.

Perhaps fed up with the questions and owing to Bale’s recent good form, and Madrid’s seemingly unassailable lead, the Welshman was given a start here.

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However, after a flat first half in which he produced little and missed a clear chance when put in on goal by Luka Modric, Bale was brought off.

Does that spell the end for him at Madrid? Moving a player with Bale’s price-tag is never simple, especially considering how many injuries he has suffered.

However, a Premier League club will surely move for him in the summer and now even Madrid president Florentino Perez must concede that his bet on Bale has not paid off.

5) No sure things in the Champions League

Back when the quarter-final draw was made, most pundits were fairly sure Barcelona, Man City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were going to be the four teams left standing.

However after Liverpool and Roma stunned the Premier League and La Liga leaders respectively to reach the semi-finals, it became clear that Real couldn’t just sit back and expect to progress because of their first leg lead.

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Juventus took just two minutes to score, sending the Bernabeu into a state of nervousness.

Then when Mandzukic pulled off the same trick again for his second goal in the 37th minute, the levels of fear grew higher still.

Matuidi’s third sent the stadium into a state of panic and even the ice-cool Zidane was made to sweat before Ronaldo saved the day.  (Mirror)

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