Real heartache as Morata gives Juve final word
Real Madrid 1 Juventus 1: Juventus win 3-2 on agg
Published 14/05/2015 | 02:30
Andrea Pirlo has rarely run as fast. As the final whistle sounded on a night of glory for Juventus, seeing them reach their first Champions League final since 2003, Pirlo left the bench at speed to celebrate with his team-mates.
Pirlo had been substituted shortly before, earning an ovation from Real Madrid fans as well as Juventus', and few will begrudge the old master of the Old Lady's midfield a chance in the final.
Juventus will meet Barcelona on June 6 in Berlin, the setting for the World Cup victory of the Italian national side containing Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon.
There were echoes here of 2006, of the underdogs defending superbly, of a team on a mission.
Berlin will behold the subplot of Luis Suarez against Giorgio Chiellini and Patrice Evra.
Real Madrid fans will watch from afar as one of their former players, Alvaro Morata, starts up front for Juventus, having scored the key goal here that equalised Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty. If only he'd stayed.
Back in Madrid, there will be more speculation about the future of Carlo Ancelotti, especially if Real fail to reel in Barcelona in La Liga.
Ancelotti's day had hardly begun well with news that he was banned from the dugout for Real's last two La Liga games of the season following the ironic clapping he had aimed at officials during last weekend's draw with Valencia.
If Ancelotti does leave, English clubs will be looking at him as well as his highly admired assistant Paul Clement.
It could be a busy summer in Madrid. There will also be intensifying talk about the future of Gareth Bale, who endured another disappointing night, looking desperately short of confidence. He rarely seemed willing to take on Evra.
Even when Morata struck against his old team midway through the second half, equalising Ronaldo's penalty, the Real fans still believed, although many whistled in derision at some of Bale's laboured touches.
They had truly thought this would be their night. The sense of expectation amongst Real supporters before kick-off had been as high as the temperatures. Real's team coach had inched its way through the throng of tens of thousands of fans spilling off pavements, twirling scarves and letting off firecrackers.
They clung to traffic-lights, trees, fathers lifting children up to see the history-chasers. Supporters and film-crews had run alongside the bus, dodging the police outriders, like Pamplona meets Mad Max. They had known their season depended on this.
Coming down another route was the Juventus coach, containing Morata and company, intent on an upset.
They stepped into an area where reminders of Real's rich European tradition were all around.
Stewards handed out song sheets carrying the 'Hala Madrid' lyrics updated for last season's Champions League final. A large banner depicting Alfredo di Stefano served as further inspiration.
Real were again missing Luca Modric, meaning that they relied on Toni Kroos to be the main ball-winner while Isco and James Rodriguez pushed up.
For almost an hour, Real were largely in control. Fit-again Karim Benzema was an immediate force, harrying the Italians' revered defence.
Buoyed by their support and all the reminders of their great history, Real tore into Juventus. Marcelo crossed the ball from the left but Bale headed over.
Mistakes crept into the Juventus game. Leonardo Bonucci fouled Ronaldo, whose free-kick needed a brilliant tip-over save from Gianluigi Buffon.
Juventus were still shading possession, 52 per cent to 48 per cent in the first half, with the hard-working Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez scuttling towards and beyond Morata.
After 13 minutes, Vidal unleashed a shot pushed away by Iker Casillas, who was following Barcelona's Xavi in making his 150th Champions League.
Paul Pogba was far from match-fit but still made some promising runs down the left.
Buffon was by far the busier, shovelling away a Bale 25-yarder after 19 minutes but beaten four minutes later.
The surprise was that a defender as savvy as Chiellini should make such a mistake, catching James. The Colombian had taken a nudge from Claudio Marchisio and Chiellini's clip finished him off. Referee Jonas Eriksson had no doubt, pointing to the spot.
As Bale jogged to the bench for some water, he exchanged warm acknowledgements with Ronaldo. The Portuguese took control of the penalty, placing it on the spot and then driving it down the middle as Buffon dived left.
The smell of smoke from outside the Bernabeu was now replaced by the whiff of smoke pouring from statisticians' calculators.
Ronaldo's 55th goal of the season was only the 13th goal Juventus had conceded in 25 away trips this season.
Ronaldo became the first person to score 10 goals in four successive Champions League seasons. He moved alongside Lionel Messi with 77 goals in Europe's elite competition. And his 307th goal in all competition took him alongside Di Stefano in Real's all-time scoring lists, behind only Raul with 323.
Real hunted a second. From a Kroos corner, Benzema headed the ball straight at Buffon.
Juventus stayed calm, awaiting their moment. After 57 minutes, Real's defence dissolved. Sergio Ramos played Juventus on and was also beaten in the air by Pogba. The ball fell kindly towards Morata. Kroos realised the danger and tried to cover back but Morata was too quick.
Catching the ball left-footed, Morata sent it flying goalwards. Casillas' hands were not strong enough and the ball continued into the net.
Real were facing oblivion. They poured forward, chasing the goal that would force extra-time. Bale fired wide and was then denied a glimpse of goal by a marvellous clearing header from Evra.
The Welshman was labouring, overrunning the ball in a foot race that he should have breezed against Chiellini. Many Real fans whistled their disapproval.
His season threatening to collapse, Ancelotti withdraw the tiring Benzema for Javier Hernandez.
Juventus still menaced on the break and Casillas saved well from Marchisio.
Real were getting increasingly desperate and Ronaldo looked to the heavens for explanation when Bale headed over his superb cross. Real fans sighed.
As Real's hopes faded, Casillas took a foul throw as he tried to hurry up proceedings.
© Daily Telegraph, London.