Ronaldo spearheads Real’s rout of Juve
Turin (Italy) :Cristiano Ronaldo led Real Madrid to a resounding 3-0 victory over Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final here, scoring twice — the second with a bicycle kick for the ages — and assisting on the third goal.
The Portugal star boosted his goal total for the current Champions League campaign to 14 and put the Blancos well on the way to qualifying for the semi-finals as they pursue a third straight triumph in Europe’s elite club competition, reports EFE news agency.
Real Madrid coach Zinedane Zidane started Tuesday night’s game with the same squad that beat Juventus 4-1 last spring in the 2017 Champions League final, leaving Gareth Bale on the bench in favour of Isco Alarcon in midfield.
Isco was quick to repay the coach’s confidence, delivering the cross that resulted in Ronaldo’s first goal of the night, just three minutes into the contest.
Juve looked poised to equalise in the 22nd minute, but Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas came up with a great stop on a rocket from close range by Gonzalo Higuain.
Ten minutes later, the cross-bar saved Juve from falling behind 2-0 off a shot by Toni Kroos.
A corner in the waning minutes of the first half found Juventus star Giorgio Chiellini open in front of the Real Madrid goal, but the Juve defender flubbed the shot and the Spanish outfit went to the dressing room with the lead.
Juve were aggressive after the break and an attack by Paulo Dybala in the 55th minute forced Sergio Ramos into a foul that will keep the Real Madrid defender out of the second leg due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Just as the initiative appeared to be shifting to Juventus, Chiellini and custodian Gianluigi Buffon combined to mishandle what should have been an easy clearance, setting the stage for Ronaldo to work his magic.
The ball rolled to Dani Carvajal and he delivered a cross to Ronaldo, whose perfectly executed bicycle kick found the back of the net before Buffon could stir.
After a moment of stunned silence, a sprinkling of applause grew into a standing ovation for Ronaldo from the Juve supporters.
As if going down 2-0 with 23 minutes left wasn’t bad enough, the Bianconeri found themselves reduced to 10 men just minutes later after Dybala was sent off for a second yellow card.
Marcelo, with an assist from Ronaldo, made it 3-0 in the 72nd minute.
For Juve, it was only the second defeat in their last 76 matches at home.