Posted by News Express | 4 April 2018 | 2,991 times
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score in 10 successive Champions League games as he struck twice for holders Real Madrid in a 3-0 win at Juventus in Tuesday’s quarterfinal first leg.
Ronaldo grabbed the opening goal in Turin after just three minutes and added a second on the hour with a sensational overhead bicycle kick, taking him to 14 goals in this season’s competition.
Juventus forward Paulo Dybala was sent off on 66 minutes before Ronaldo set up Marcelo to cap the rout and leave Real in complete control of the tie going into the second leg in Madrid on April 11.
The 33-year-old Portugal star had shared the previous record with former Manchester United teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy, who scored in nine consecutive matches between 2002 and 2003.
“We saw what Ronaldo is and always has been – a player of an extraordinary level who along with Leo Messi is achieving the greatest heights,” said Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
“This means they can be compared to Maradona and Pele for the way they ultimately are able to decide matches and trophies won by their teams.”
The defending champions are now poised to advance to the semifinals as they host Juventus – losing finalists twice in the past three seasons – in the second leg next week in Madrid.
Zinedine Zidane opted for the same line-up as last year’s final in Cardiff where the Spaniards crushed Juventus 4-1 to lift the European title for the 12th time, with Karim Benzema and Ronaldo backed by Isco who was preferred to Gareth Bale.
And some dreadful defending from Juventus early gave Isco the space on the left flank to set up Ronaldo nicely for the opener.
Buffon, 40, who has never won the Champions League title in his long and illustrious career, was left with no chance.
The goal stunned the home crowd with Sami Khedira and Dybala earning a corner and the Argentine looking as though he could break through, but he was quickly closed down by Sergio Ramos.
Mattia De Sciglio sent a shot flashing across goal on 34 minutes that just evaded the sliding Gonzalo Higuain, who was then denied by a stunning reflex stop from Keylor Navas after getting on the end of a Dybala free-kick.
Real looked set to score again when Toni Kroos latched onto a loose ball, his blistering long-range effort rattling the top of the crossbar.
The Spaniards will be without captain Sergio Ramos next week after the centre-back was booked for a foul on Dybala, whose resulting free-kick was deflected just wide.
But Real doubled their lead when confusion in the Juve defence allowed Ronaldo to keep alive an attack, Dani Carvajal crossing back into the area where Ronaldo connected with an outrageous bicycle kick, a strike that earned the applause of the home crowd.
Just a minute later Dybala received his second yellow card for a raised boot on Carvajal, and with a man down there was no stopping Real Madrid with Marcelo getting the third past Buffon.
“I feel great regret and disappointment,” said Buffon. “Because we probably won’t be able to go forward in the tournament and that is a regret, a big regret, but it’s also true that when you meet certain opponents, you must have a clear enough head to recognise they are objectively stronger.”
Mateo Kovacic almost added a fourth when he hit the crossbar, with Buffon stopping another Ronaldo effort and the Portuguese missing another chance late.
Ronaldo, who has now scored 23 goals in all competition for Madrid in 2018, earned a standing ovation as he left the pitch.
In the other quarterfinal, first leg clash, Bayern Munich fought back with a deflected own goal and a late header from Thiago to claim a 2-1 win at Sevilla.
Pablo Sarabia had put Sevilla ahead in the 32nd minute when he got the better of Juan Bernat to control Sergio Escudero’s cross and fire home at the back post.
However, five minutes later Bayern levelled when Sevilla’s Jesus Navas agonisingly deflected Franck Ribery’s cross past home goalkeeper David Soria at the near post.
With Sevilla tiring, five-time European champions Bayern took advantage and Thiago headed the winner with the help of a deflection off Sergio Escudero in the 68th minute.
“Sevilla are a good team and it’s not easy here,” said Ribery. “We reacted well to going behind. You can’t make any mistakes, you always have to be awake.”
Experienced Bayen coach Jupp Heynckes said his team needed a slice of fortune to help turn the tide in their favour.
“Psychologically it was very important to equalise quickly, even if it took a bit of luck,” he said. “But if we want to win the Champions League we need to improve.”
Vincenzo Montella’s Sevilla were unlucky to go in level at the break, having had the better of the first half and demonstrating the spirit that saw them knock out Manchester United in the last 16.
Despite the absence of suspended playmaker Ever Banega, the Andalusians defied their underdog label and might have been awarded a penalty when Joaquin Correa was felled by Jerome Boateng but instead he was booked for diving.
Sarabia should then have put the hosts ahead but fired just wide after the ball dropped perfectly for him in front of goal.
The Spanish attacking midfielder made amends with the opening goal before Navas’s own goal levelled the scores.
Sevilla nearly found the net just after the break but Javi Martinez made a superb perfectly timed last-ditch tackle on Franco Vazquez in the area to snuff out the chance.
After that the hosts ran out of steam and Soria had to make a fine save to deny Martinez before Thiago got the winner with a downward header that was deflected from another Ribery cross.
“The team are a bit hurt, but we played against a great side,” said Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi.
Sevilla now need an unlikely triumph against the Germans in Munich in next Wednesday's second leg to reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time.
“We lost 2-1 and anything can happen in the second leg,” added N’Zonzi. “It’s 90 minutes, 11 against 11, we have a good team and we know it will be very tough, but anything could happen.”
•Sourced from reports by AFP and Reuters.
No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.