Ronaldo stars as Juventus progress
Cristiano Ronaldo was the star for Juventus as they overturned a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of their round of 16 tie against Atlético Madrid on Tuesday.
Trailing 2-0 after the first leg in Spain, the night was set up for the former Real Madrid and Manchester United hero, and he didn’t disappoint. Having signed for Juventus for £99m in the summer, he had yet to show the sort of form in Europe that had enabled Real Madrid to win the Champions League on four occasions, but in front of a packed crowd at the Allianz Stadium, he wrote his name into the history of this famous club with a memorable hat-trick.
Having levelled the fixture with two powerful headers, he then secured the winner by firing home a penalty with four minutes to go, following a foul on Federico Bernardeschi. The penalty was his 124th goal in the Champions League and completed an eighth hat-trick in the tournament. The victory also strengthened Juventus’ position in the betting markets for the Champions League title, where sports betting companies make them the third favourites behind Manchester City and Barcelona.
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri had sent his team out to adopt a high line in order to put pressure on the visitors, with full-backs Leonardo Spinazzola and João Cancelo given licence to push forward. That approach nearly had an early pay-off as Giorgio Chiellini put the ball in the net in the fourth minute, but the goal was ruled out after a VAR review for a foul on goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
However, there was no debate about Juventus’ first goal, just before the half-hour mark, when Ronaldo rose to power a header past Oblak. That goal settled a few nerves inside the stadium, and with their home fans roaring them on, Juve levelled the tie early in the second half. Cancelo hung a cross into the area and Ronaldo headed the ball over the line. Initially, it seemed that Oblak had managed to scramble the ball away, but goal-line technology revealed that the goal was good.
With Juventus pushing for the winner, Atlético were struggling to hang on for extra time, and four minutes from the end of normal time, the pressure told. The former Fiorentina star Bernardeschi made a 50-yard run into the box where he was pushed by Ángel Correa, and the referee pointed to the spot. With the game in his grasp, Ronaldo stepped up and calmly slotted his penalty home to cap a memorable night for Juventus and progress to the quarter-finals.
Words: Noah Hart