Cristiano Ronaldo once again underlined his worth in Europe’s elite competition as his hat-trick overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Atletico Madrid to send Juventus into the Champions League last eight.
Ronaldo, looking for his sixth winners’ medal, was the focal point of many of Juve’s attacks as the Serie A champions looked to unlock one of Europe’s tightest defences.
The 34-year-old scored first in the 27th minute when he got in front of Juanfran to head in Federico Bernardeschi’s cross at the far post.
Four minutes after the break the former Real Madrid forward levelled the tie with another header. This needed the video assistant referee to confirm it was a goal after keeper Jan Oblak initially appeared to have clawed the ball off the line.
With four minutes remaining the comeback was complete. Bernardeschi, who was exceptional throughout the match, made a lung-busting run from just inside the Atletico half before he was pushed over by Angel Correa in the area.
Referee Bjorn Kuipers pointed to the spot and Ronaldo smashed home the penalty. It was his 124th goal in the Champions League.
Juventus’ fans erupted on the final whistle and the players rushed to Ronaldo after he delivered one of the most memorable European nights in the club’s history.
Atletico’s defeat means they miss out on the chance to play the final at their own Wanda Metropolitano stadium on 1 June.
Ronaldo leads outstanding team display
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri set up his team to play a high line and put pressure on their Spanish opponents from the first whistle, with the onus on full-backs Leonardo Spinazzola and Cancelo to advance forward as often as possible.
The home side thought that tactic had paid off early when captain Giorgio Chiellini poked home in the fourth minute. However, following a VAR review it was declared that Ronaldo had fouled Oblak in the build-up.
There was no need to refer to VAR when Juve next had the ball in the net through Ronaldo’s first header past Oblak.
It gave the home fans, who were handed 30,000 flags to wave, hope that their side could produce one of the great Champions League fightbacks in recent times.
That became more likely soon after the restart when Ronaldo headed in his second.
It was Cancelo who supplied the cross on this occasion. Oblak appeared to claw his effort off the line before goal-line technology alerted Kuipers that the goal was good by a matter of inches.
For the winner, former Fiorentina player Bernardeschi was pushed inside the area by his tracker Correa – the Juve crowd held their breath for a second before Kuipers pointed to the spot.
It was left for Ronaldo to crown a memorable night for both himself and his team by firing his spot-kick to the right of Oblak.
More to follow.