Ronaldo magic fires Real past 10-man Juventus

A class above: Ronaldo rises in sensational fashion to double Real's lead
AFP

Turin (Italy) (AFP) – 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 quarter-final 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 team-mate 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 semi-finals 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.

– ‘Regret and disappointment’ –

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.

.