Real Madrid 1-3 Juventus talking points as Cristiano Ronaldo reinforces his eternal greatness

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Cristiano Ronaldo slots in the winning penalty.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck a dramatic injury-time penalty to deny Juventus an incredible comeback and send two-time-successive holders Real Madrid through to the Champions League’s semi-finals.

Los Blancos’s commanding 3-0 lead from last week’s first leg in Turin disappeared by 60 minutes. Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic produced two first-half headers and France midfielder Blaise Matuidi took advantage of goalkeeper Keylor Navas’ fumble.

Extra time seemed imminent before English referee Michael Oliver adjudged that Morocco centre-back Medhi Benatia had brought down substitute Lucas Vazquez in the box.

With legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon duly dismissed for dissent, Ronaldo stepped up in the 97th minute to lash in his decisive 15th European goal of the campaign.

YOU CANNOT CONTAIN CRISTIANO

If any more evidence was required of Ronaldo’s eternal greatness, his contributions to this incredible two-legged tie ends the debate.

In Turin, the Portugal forward’s early tap-in and staggering bicycle kick spurred talk he’d conjured the sport’s finest goal.

This time on home soil, he was not a ubiquitous presence. His five shots before injury time barely forced Buffon to strain as Madrid stared a shameful exit in the face, while six of his team-mates had more touches than his 50.

But you knew from the moment Oliver pointed to the spot he wouldn’t miss.

Madrid’s record goal scorer was calmness personified as he slammed in his 447th effort in royal white as the eyes of the world provided inspiration, rather than fear.

A special talent had decided an unforgettable contest.

REAL DRAMA DEFINES EPIC TIE

High drama to equal the greatest scripts produced by Hollywood was present at Santiago Bernabeu.

Juventus were utterly superb for 92 minutes of intense action in the Spanish capital as they chased down an impossible 3-0 deficit.

Fueled by the superb Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic and – the scorer of the crucial third – Matuidi in the engine room, they were prepared to bomb on and leave gaps in search of goals.

This bold approach – a world away from June’s meek loss to the same opponents in the final – appeared to have gifted them a lifeline until the epic scenes of second-half injury time.

Benatia’s push and kick felled Vazquez for his team’s critical first misstep, matinee idol Buffon was dismissed for dissent on potentially his final European outing and Ronaldo obliged with the coup de grace for the helpless hosts.

On the 199 previous occasions the away team won the first leg of a European tie 3-0, they progressed. Somehow, this statistic stretched to 200.

SUPER MARIO STRIKES

Los Blancos bring something special out in Mandzukic.

Their regular tormentor when representing city rivals Atletico Madrid repeated the trick in a monumental first half for the Bianconeri and their tactically astute head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

The gangly Croatia forward’s pair of towering headers – which left right-back Dani Carvajal brutally exposed – moved him onto five career goals against the 12-time European kings.

History was also made twice over. His opener clocked at 76 seconds was the quickest one conceded by Madrid on the hallowed soil of Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League, plus he also became the first visiting player in the competition’s history to score twice there before half-time.

Statistics aside, it gave Juve that great intangible – hope.

Gabriel Jesus also struck in the second minute for Manchester City in their salvage job against Liverpool, but momentum soon dissipated as a vital second didn’t follow.

Mandzukic made sure the Old Lady didn’t fade away.

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Bayern Munich ratings as Arjen Robben and listless offence aren't needed in goalless draw with Sevilla

Jay Asser 12/04/2018
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Arjen Robben (r) battles for the ball.

With all the craziness going on elsewhere in the Champions League, Bayern Munich were happy to take a quiet night as their goalless draw with Sevilla was enough to push them into the semi-finals on a 2-1 aggregate.

Jupp Heynckes‘ side were relatively listless on the night in front of their home fans, but much wasn’t required as Sevilla couldn’t muster enough of an attack to send a scare into the Bundesliga giants.

The closest anyone came to finding the back of the net was on Joaquin Correa’s header after a free kick, which caromed off the crossbar.

Here are our Bayern ratings.

BAYERN MUNICH (4-2-3-1)

Sven Ulreich – 6: Had little to do as Sevilla struggled to threaten goal, aside from one header hitting the crossbar.

Joshua Kimmich – 7: Wasn’t flashy but did subtle things well to really make his presence felt on the night.

Jerome Boateng – 5: It appeared he had Correa marked on the free kick when the Sevilla man got a strong header on the ball and hit the crossbar.

Mats Hummels – 6: Didn’t have many opportunities to get involved in the action as the offence as a whole was stop-and-start.

Rafinha – 6: Peppered in his fair share of crosses but none of them found the mark.

Javi Martinez – 5: Nearly made a costly mistake with his attempt to play back to the goalkeeper, which was poorly hit and resulted in a chance for Sevilla.

James Rodriguez – 6: Had moments where he was in the box with the ball and could have capitalised, but left empty-handed.

Arjen Robben – 7: Produced his usual magic at times down the right flank, but couldn’t find a way to finish off any of his threatening runs.

Thomas Muller – 6: Wasn’t much of a factor in the middle as Bayern preferred to attack through the outside.

Franck Ribery – 7: Had Bayern’s best opportunity in the first half, sending a hard shot that swerved but ultimately went down the middle before being saved.

Robert Lewandowski – 6: It couldn’t be said that Lewandowski wasn’t sacrificing his body as he took several knocks before being subbed off in the 77th minute.

SUBSTITUTES

Thiago – 6: Was fairly anonymous in his 20 or so minutes.

Sandro Wagner – 6: Had some theatrics near the end, including an appeal for a penalty.

Niklas Sule – 6: Came on too late to play much of a role.

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Juventus player ratings as they fall just short against Real Madrid in the Champions League

Tom Biggs 12/04/2018
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Giorgio Chiellini battles with Cristiano Ronaldo

On a night of high drama in Madrid, Juventus were denied by an injury-time Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, as the Italian side lost 4-3 to Real Madrid on aggregate.

Juventus had produced an incredible away performance to come back from three goals down to level the tie on aggregate, before Ronaldo’s penalty sent Madrid through to the final four.

Here are our Juventus ratings from an epic European encounter…

STARTING XI

Gianluigi Buffon – 8: Denied Cristiano Ronaldo twice and made a smart stop to keep out Isco. Sent off for reaction to penalty.

Mattia De Sciglio – 5: Unfortunate to go off early with injury. Before that he was guilty of being wasteful in promising wide positions.

Mehdi Benatia – 6: Did well up against Ronaldo in one-on-one situations but let himself down with a clumsy challenge for the penalty.

Giorgio Chiellini – 8: A rock at the back. Made eight clearances and three interceptions, while keeping Ronaldo quiet until his penalty won it.

Alex Sandro – 7: Didn’t give Gareth Bale a sniff and was equally as impressive up against Lucas Vazquez in the second half.

Sami Khedira – 8: Assisted the opening goal with a clever cross. Madrid found it difficult to track his forward runs.

Miralem Pjanic – 7: Slightly unfortunate to be booked early on, but composed himself well and looked classy on the ball.

Blaise Matuidi – 8: A terrific midfield display. More advanced after the break and in the right place to score the third goal.

Douglas Costa – 8: Completed seven dribbles and troubled Marcelo throughout. A real menace with his direct running and pace.

Gonzalo Higuain – 7: Looked like he had a point to prove at the Bernabeu. Worked tirelessly and kept Madrid’s defenders busy.

Mario Mandzukic – 9: Won his personal battle against Dani Carvajal. Took both goals superbly well and helped out defensively.

SUBSTITUTES

Stephan Lichsteiner – 8: Set up Mandzukic for the Croatian’s second goal. Did well to keep Marco Asensio quiet in the second half.

Wojciech Szczęsny – N/A: Guessed the right way but couldn’t stop Ronaldo’s penalty with his only act of the game.

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