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Late Ronaldo penalty puts Madrid into CL semifinals

Late Ronaldo penalty puts Madrid into CL semifinals
The Associated Press

MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo converted an injury-time penalty to keep Juventus from pulling off another stunning comeback in the quarterfinals of the Champions League as Read Madrid advanced despite a 3-1 home loss on Wednesday.

The goal was enough to clinch a 4-3 aggregate win for Madrid, as the two-time defending champion reached the semifinals for the eighth straight season.

A day after seeing Spanish rival Barcelona blow a three-goal advantage against Roma in Italy, Madrid nearly did the same. But Juventus’ heroics came up just short after substitute Lucas Vazquez was pushed from behind inside the area in the third and final minute of stoppage time.

Veteran Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, in what was likely his last Champions League game, was then sent off for furiously complaining after the penalty decision.

In the night’s other quarterfinal, Bayern Munich advanced with a 0-0 home draw against Sevilla as the newly crowned Bundesliga champions defended a 2-1 advantage from the first leg.

Madrid won the first leg 3-0 in Turin last week, when Ronaldo scored with a spectacular bicycle kick for his second goal of the match.

That deficit made Wednesday’s return leg seem like an impossible task for Juventus but they got off to the perfect start when Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring with a header two minutes into the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. He added to the lead with another header before halftime, and Blaise Matuidi scored the third early in the second half after a blunder by Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

But Ronaldo, in his 150th Champions League appearance, then netted his 120th goal in the competition by converting the penalty with a firm shot into the top corner. He celebrated by taking off his shirt and running toward the euphoric Madrid crowd.

Ronaldo has scored 21 goals in his last 11 matches in all competitions, and has netted in 11 straight Champions League matches.

The penalty came as Vazquez was in position to score in front of the goal after Ronaldo headed down a cross into the area. Juventus players stormed toward English referee Michael Oliver, who apparently had help from his behind-the-goal assistant to make the call.

Madrid had conceded three goals at home only two other times this season, in a 3-0 loss to Barcelona and a 6-3 win over Girona. It was the first time Madrid was down 3-0 in the Champions League since losing 4-0 at Liverpool in the round of 16 in 2008-09.

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More AP Champions League coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/ChampionsLeague

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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