Sunday, June 04, 2017

Real Madrid: 2016-17 UEFA Champions League Winners



Real Madrid became the first team to retain the UEFA Champions League, and Cristiano Ronaldo the first player to score in three finals, as a clinical display proved too much for Juventus in Cardiff and secured their 12th European crown.

No side had won successive European Cups since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, and Madrid were set on their way by Ronaldo's deflected opener midway through the first half – their 500th goal in the competition. Mario Mandžukić swiftly brought Juve level with a stunning finish, but Madrid looked stronger thereafter and two goals in four minutes, from Casemiro and Ronaldo, and a late fourth by substitute Marco Asensio, clinched their third crown in four years.

Juventus might have lost their four previous UEFA Champions League finals – including 2015 – but they started full of confidence, Gonzalo Higuaín forcing Keylor Navas into action twice in the first five minutes before Miralem Pjanić's stinging low shot was superbly pushed away by the goalkeeper.

Madrid, however, are masters of the clinical counterattack, and proved that again in the 20th minute. In a superb rapid break, Ronaldo played in Dani Carvajal down the right and found the space to sweep the ensuing low cross beyond Gianluigi Buffon and inside the far post with the help of a deflection off Leonardo Bonucci.



Juve came back strongly, though, and within seven minutes they were level. Gonzalo Higuaín flicked back to Mandžukić 15 metres out and, with his back to goal and defenders closing in, the Croatian improvised superbly to beat Navas with an acrobatic overhead kick.

With no let-up, Ronaldo miscued a header from Isco's inviting cross as Madrid ended the first half on top and they carried that into the second period. A goal appeared to be in the offing and it duly arrived a minute past the hour, Casemiro's first-time shot from 30 metres spinning in via a touch off Sami Khedira.

Three minutes later, the game was as good as settled. Luka Modrić was quickly in to win possession down the right, swap passes with Carvajal and deliver a fine cross to the near post where, inevitably, Ronaldo was waiting to divert beyond Buffon.

Juve never looked like mounting a second comeback and finished with ten men after substitute Juan Cuadrado tangled with Sergio Ramos to become the third player to be sent off in a European Cup final. Madrid crowned their evening in the closing seconds as Marcelo crossed for Asensio to slot in and complete a devastating second-half display.


Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Another remarkable evening for the Portuguese star. Two typically assured finishes gave him his fourth UEFA Champions League final victory, made him the first player to score in three finals (all won), and made it 600 career goals for club and country. Oh, and he finished as the UEFA Champions League's top scorer for the fifth year in a row with 12 goals, ten of which have come from the quarter-finals onwards.

Reporters' views

Joe Walker, Real Madrid (@UEFAcomJoeW)
History makers! There is something about the UEFA Champions League that brings out the best in Real Madrid and an irresistible 15-minute spell just after half-time did for Juventus. Whatever Zidane said to his charges at the interval worked and they dominated the second period after a very even first half. They are the first team to defend the competition in its current format and will already have eyes on making it a hat-trick in Kyiv next May.

Paolo Menicucci, Juventus (@UEFAcomPaoloM)
Once again Juventus fell at the last hurdle in their attempt to win the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 1996. The Bianconeri have now lost five consecutive finals, seven out of nine in total. Two years ago a spectacular Barcelona attack ended their dream, this time they found Cristiano Ronaldo between themselves and the cup. Luck was not on their side as Madrid's first two goals came from deflected shots but Juve almost vanished in the second half, seemingly running out of gas in their most important game of the season when a historic treble appeared a concrete possibility.

Post a Comment