Juventus vs Real Madrid: Miracle to Controversy

Pic courtesy: UEFA Champions League

Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus’s veteran goalkeeper, has lived through all the highs and lows of soccer, from winning the World Cup with Italy to getting relegated with his club because of a match-fixing scandal.

But even by such standards, his exit from the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night will rank as one the most dramatic events in his career. In the dying moments of the game, Buffon was shown a red card for angrily protesting a penalty that allowed Real Madrid to advance to the semifinals of the competition.

As Buffon left the field under the applause of the Madrid crowd, the man who stepped forward to take the penalty was inevitably Cristiano Ronaldo, the goal-scoring machine of the Champions League.

Ronaldo had to wait several minutes while Buffon’s teammates surrounded the referee and argued. But Ronaldo was cool and composed, eventually hitting an unstoppable shot past the Juventus replacement keeper, Wojciech Szczesny, before taking off his shirt and running toward the corner flag to celebrate.

Juventus needed an early turnaround having been defeated 3-0 at home in the first leg and yes, it arrived inside two minutes when Sami Khedira rocketed down the right flank and crossed for Mario Mandžukić who powered a header past Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas.

The Croatian striker replayed the same trick from Stephan Lichtsteiner’s centre before the halfway mark and the most unlikely of comeback became a serious reality when Blaise Matuidi stabbed in the third following a fumble from Navas just after the 60 minute mark.

And then happened the mishap, with extra time looming, Medhi Benatia hurled over Lucas Vázquez and Ronaldo kept his cool to fire the penalty into the top corner past Wojciech Szczęsny.

Reporter talking points

Joseph Walker, Real Madrid: What’s the Spanish for ‘out of jail?’ Somehow, Madrid are through. Second best all night, Allegri had Zidane’s number tactically yet dramatic late circumstances, as is their wont in this competition, see Madrid through. The Bernabéu rose as one to applaud both teams off. What a game!

Paolo Menicucci, Juventus: Juve needed a miracle after the 3-0 home defeat in the first leg and they went as close as it gets to creating one. Despite the elimination, the Bianconeri showed the world their amazing character. It was a very sad ending, especially with the Buffon sending-off. The added-time penalty was a terrible blow but I’m sure they will be back to compete at the very highest level next season with this spirit. The (almost) perfect game was not enough for them.

Key Stats

  1. Ronaldo’s tenth goal against Juventus, a UCL record against a single club.
  2. Ronaldo has scored in 11 #UCL games in a row.
  3. Madrid had not been two down at half-time in a #UCL home game since February 2000.
  4. Mandžukić first visiting player to score two first-half #UCL goals at Santiago Bernabéu.
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