Sunday 19 November 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo scores his 98th, 99th and 100th Champions League goals to knock Bayern out in controversial thriller

Cristiano Ronaldo may reconsider his decision to leave Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo may reconsider his decision to leave Real Madrid

Jason Burt

Even when he is not playing well he creates history. Cristiano Ronaldo claimed a hat-trick – reaching 100 Champions League goals, the first player ever to do so – as Real Madrid made it through to the semi-finals in a contest engulfed in controversy.

There was a harsh dismissal of Arturo Vidal that turned this tie just as Bayern were set to create history of their own, and appeared in control, and then Ronaldo’s second goal was scored from an offside position as he chested the ball down and stabbed it home.

Ronaldo later added a third, completing a hat-trick – a perfect hat-trick (header, left-foot, right-foot) tapping in after Marcelo had burst through before substitute Marco Asensio sent a low shot into the net as Bayern’s desperation grew. It meant that Ronaldo did not score all of Real’s six goals in this tie.

The atmosphere, shrill and intense – and tense - spiked early when Arturo Vidal brought down Isco and was booked. It meant the midfielder was out of the semi-final first-leg, should Bayern make it, and also that Cristiano Ronaldo was given his first opportunity. A free-kick, 25 yards out, which he planted into the wall. Isco was Gareth Bale’s replacement, Bale out with a damaged ankle sustained in that first meeting, with Bayern bolstered by the return of Robert Lewandowski and clearly given a game-plan by Carlo Ancelotti to hit Real hard.

They were stung from last week’s loss. They should have been in control, should maybe have been out-of-sight, before Javi Martinez’s sending off and Ronaldo’s two goals – taking him to 100 in this competition - and they should have been level on aggregate here as they cut through the Real right with Thiago Alcantara reaching Franck Ribery’s cross only for his close-range shot to be blocked by Marcelo. Still the rebound fell to Arjen Robben who miscued into the side-netting. What a let-off for Real.

It continued to be Bayern who threatened with Thiago almost releasing Robben, only for Keylor Navas to rush from goal, and Sergio Ramos, making his 100th Champions League appearance, chipping the ball out of play as the German champions pressed high, looking to gain that early goal upon which they could build and turn the atmosphere.

Finally Real threatened. They broke down the left, switching the ball across to right-back Dani Carvajal who skimmed a low drive narrowly past the far post with Manuel Neuer at full stretch appearing to tip it wide. No corner was given. If that was a superb save by Neuer he then blundered as he spilled another effort by Carvajal only to send the ball straight to Ramos whose shot was scuffed and was hacked off the line by Jerome Boateng.

Ronaldo took the ball off Toni Kroos’ toe, just as he shaped to shoot, and was then beaten – fairly – by Mats Hummels as he set himself to head home Marcelo’s cross. Kroos was given a shooting chance but hooked it over the bar, then saw another effort brilliantly blocked by Hummels and Ronaldo bore down on goal but drove the ball straight at Neuer as the contest continued to swing from end to end with the sense that whoever scored next – while not decisive – would have the momentum. It seemed Ronaldo would provide it after a powerful counter-attacking run by Marcelo but, incredibly, he blazed over.

There had been chance after chance after chance but no goal and when Vidal was deemed to have fouled Casemiro early in the second-half Real demanded a different advantage – another man advantage – as they surrounded referee Viktor Kassai calling for a red card. It was not shown.

Isco shot narrowly wide and then, surely, Bayern would score as David Alaba worked his way to the by-line and cut the ball back to Robben who was unmarked. It was just behind the winger but he dug the ball out only for Marcelo to head off the line. Seconds later, though, and they did score with Robben going down under Casemiro’s late challenge, a challenge he drew. Penalty.

Up stepped Lewandowski to calmly send Navas the wrong way and chip the ball into the net and it was, indeed, game-on with Vidal then volleying over from just outside the six-yard box as Real nerves began to fray and Bayern camped in their half, sensing they could do this.

Then, out of nothing, Real scored and Ronaldo – who had been poor – provided it as he reached another cross, this time from Casemiro, to steer his header past Neuer.

But as Real celebrated, Bayern struck with substitute Thomas Muller and Lewandowski combining and the ball rebounding around the penalty area before Ramos intercepted – only to poke it, trickling past the stranded Navas.

Just as Bayern appeared set to take the tie they were again reduced to 10-men with Vidal sent off, after a challenge on Asensio. It was not even a foul. And we headed for extra-time.

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