Zinedine Zidane hails ‘beautiful’ Cristiano Ronaldo as wonder goal fires Real past 10-man Juventus in Champions League
Home fans clap striker’s stunning second before giving him standing ovation as he left the pitch with holders one foot in the Champions League semi-finals
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score in 10 successive Uefa 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 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 goalscoring record with former Manchester United teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy, who found the net in nine consecutive matches between 2002 and 2003.
“You can say he’s one of the most beautiful players in the history of football,” said Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.
“It’s not easy to get three goals past Juve on their own pitch. But in the end it was teamwork, you have to work as a team to get this result.”
“Of course Juventus aren’t happy with the result tonight, but I will always have Juve in my heart,” added Zidane, who spent five seasons at the Italian club as a player.
“This 3-0 is really hard to digest,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, who has guided the club to the final twice in the past three seasons.
“In my opinion, from Cardiff (last year’s final defeat) to today we have even improved.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) 3 April 2018
“There is absolutely nothing to hold against the lads. We faced an extraordinary team with probably the best player in the world. Now we have to raise our heads, think about the future and the championship.”
Zidane opted for the same line-up as last year’s final when the Spaniards crushed Juventus 4-1 to claim a record 12th European title, with Isco preferred to Gareth Bale.
Some dreadful defending from Juventus early gave Isco the space on the left flank to supply Ronaldo for the opener, with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon helpless to stop the Portuguese’s expert flick.
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 save 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 crossbar.
— Soccer_Nation (@SoccerNationIg) 4 April 2018
The Spanish giants will be without captain 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 as Marcelo put a third past Buffon from a Ronaldo assist.
“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 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.”
Cristiano Ronaldo of Champions League:
Most Group Stage Goals
Most Knockout Goals
Most Final Goals
Most Consecutive Matches Scored. pic.twitter.com/POjB4w1DkS [@TeamCRonaldo]
— Real Madrid Info (@RMadridInfo) 3 April 2018
“I feel great regret and disappointment,” added the 40-year-old.
“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 a further 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 from the Juventus fans as he left the pitch.