Ronaldo hat-trick leads Juve into Champions League quarter-finals
TURIN, Italy (Reuters) – Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a hat-trick against his favourite opponents Atletico Madrid as the Italians overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit to win 3-0 and reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Ronaldo blasted home the decisive goal from a penalty with four minutes left to seal a 3-2 overall triumph having made the breakthrough in the 27th minute and levelled the aggregate score three minutes after halftime with another towering header.
It was his eighth hat-trick in the Champions League, pulling him level with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, and took the Portugal international’s tally in his favourite club competition, where he is the all-time leading scorer, to 124.
The former Real Madrid player, aiming to win the Champions League for the sixth time with his third different club, having also lifted the trophy with Manchester United, took his tally against Atletico to 25 goals in 33 matches in all competitions.
“This was why Juventus brought me here, to help do things that they have never done before,” said Ronaldo, now 34. “This is the mentality you need to win in the Champions League.”
Shell-shocked Atletico failed to muster a shot on target as they paid the price for an ultra-cautious approach by defensive-minded coach Diego Simeone in the last-16 second leg tie.
“Simply an epic match,” said Juve’s Giorgio Chiellini. “The best way to celebrate my 500th appearance for the club.”
Defender Chiellini had the ball in the visitors’ net after just four minutes following a goalmouth scramble but it was disallowed for foul by Ronaldo on goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
The Serie A side bombarded the Atletico area with crosses but made little headway against a packed defence until Federico Bernardeschi switched to the left and floated a cross to the far post where Ronaldo outjumped Juanfran to head in.
With Atletico making little effort to look for the away goal that could have changed the complexion of the tie, Juventus continued to press forward.
Bernardeschi curled a free kick over the crossbar and also produced an ambitious bicycle kick which flew wide before Chiellini had a header tipped over by Oblak.
Atletico’s first real chance fell to on-loan striker Alvaro Morata who got between two defenders to meet Koke’s cross from the right only to head over.
Juve went straight back on the attack after the break and quickly levelled the aggregate score at 2-2.
Ronaldo met Joao Cancelo’s cross with another powerful header and although Oblak clawed the ball away, goal line technology showed that it had crossed the line by centimetres and the referee signalled a goal.
Atletico brought on Vitolo and Angel Correa in an attempt to add more bite to their attack but to no avail.
With extra-time looming, Bernardeschi powered into the area and was pushed in the back by Correa, leaving Ronaldo to blast home the penalty to the delight of the Juve supporters.