Friday 22 September 2017

Ronaldo sends Real on their way to victory

Juventus 1 Real Madrid 4

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Real Madrids' third goal. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Real Madrids' third goal. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

Bob Gibson

Cristiano Ronaldo ensured the biggest show in football would cast him as the shining star last night, as he secured his fourth Champions League winners medal in glorious fashion.

Ronaldo's two goals fired Real Madrid to a remarkable 12th Champions League title in Cardiff, and the football world looked on in awe as this magnificent sportsmen added to his already glittering legacy.

Marco Asensio
Marco Asensio

For so long, Ronaldo's critics questioned whether he could be hailed as the greatest player of his era due to a lack of match winning performances when it mattered most.

Yet on a night when he scored the 599th and 600th goals of his career, the question marks over this wonderful talent were truly banished.

For the first time in the Champions League era, we have a team who have defended the trophy successfully and for Ronaldo, this was merely the latest entry into his personal encyclopaedia of glory.

With so much quality in all areas of the pitch, it was hard to imagine this game failing to live up to its lavish build-up and as Ronaldo stroked Real Madrid ahead after 20 minutes, this game had lift-off.

Juventus' Juan Cuadrado in action with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters
Juventus' Juan Cuadrado in action with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

Juventus may have bossed the early exchanges as these two heavyweights threw exploratory jabs as they searched for an opening blow, with the superstar who demands top billing on nights like this delivering with his first glimpse at goal.

Dani Carvajal created the opening with a crisp pass to Ronaldo on the edge of the box, with the Portuguese wizard wasting no time in firing past Gianluigi Buffon with the help of deflection.

The threat of this game being dominated by negative football was wiped away with Ronaldo's goal and it did not take long for Juventus to respond.

Mario Mandzukic had so much to do as he controlled Gonzalo Higuain's lay-up, with the overhead, looping shot he manufactured instantly etched into Champions League final hall of fame status for its magnificence.

Juventus' Juan Cuadrado in action with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters
Juventus' Juan Cuadrado in action with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

Games of this importance deserve goals of this quality, with Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas stranded as the effort looped over him to draw Juventus level.

It felt as if either side could score when they pressed the accelerator pedal, with the closed roof at the National Stadium in Cardiff ensuring this game was played in a cauldron of noise that added to the theatre.

The third goal in this game had the potential to be decisive and it came from an improbable source, with Casemiro's speculative 61st minute long-range effort deflecting off Sami Khedira en route to goal.

Buffon was deceived by the deflection and three minutes later, the veteran stopper knew his Champions League dream may have been killed off one last time as Ronaldo fired home his second goal from close range, the Juventus challenge evaporated, with Marco Asensio sealing the deal with a late fourth.

Ronaldo won the first major honour of his incredible career at this stadium as he helped Manchester United to FA Cup glory back in 2004.

Some 13 years on and he returned to confirm his greatness in the grand manner.

Sunday Indo Sport

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