Cristiano Ronaldo scored on either side of Fernando Llorente’s second-ever goal for Juventus as Real Madrid prevailed 2-1 at home to 10-man Juventus on Wednesday.
All three goals were scored in the opening period, and what had shaped up to be a terrific finish to the match was dealt a blow shortly after the restart when Bianconeri defender Giorgio Chiellini was shown a controversial red card for a straight-armed challenge on Ronaldo.
Madrid managed to hold onto their one-goal lead through a chippy second half interrupted by numerous stops and starts, but at the final whistle they won’t have been all that unhappy with three points that saw them maintain their 100 percent record in Group B while Juventus, still without a win in the bracket, dropped to third spot.
It took just four minutes for a quick-starting Madrid side to find the back of the net against the Italian champions at the Bernabeu.
Timing his run to perfection Ronaldo was played onside by Martin Caceres and delicately received Angel Di Maria’s well-placed through-ball before rounding Gianluigi Buffon and scoring his 56th Champions League goal from a tight angle.
But Juventus settled well despite falling behind and quite nearly answered eight minutes later through Paul Pogba following Fernando Llorente’s cross. Incidentally it would be the same two players who would combine to restore level terms in the 22nd minute.
Making amends for his earlier gaffe, Caceres’ delightful cross from the right found Pogba at the far post, and although Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas made the initial save on the Frenchman, Llorente was on hand to smash the rebound into the gaping net.
It was the least the guests deserved, which is why they will have been as surprised as anyone when Madrid were awarded a penalty just six minutes later.
Chiellini, who had a poor game by his standards, was the guilty party as he pulled Sergio Ramos to ground from behind on a Madrid free-kick, and moments later the hosts were back in front after Ronaldo had confidently converted from the spot.
It was to be the final goal of the encounter.
The second half had barely begun when Chiellini was issued a straight red card for his foul on Ronaldo, and while Madrid would enjoy a numerical supremacy for the remainder of the match they would fail to make it count.
Still, they might have doubled their lead on the hour-mark had Karim Benzema not missed a sitter following Di Maria’s goal-mouth pass, and with 16 minutes remaining Gareth Bale—who had come on as a substitute—found the side-netting in his only meaningful contribution of the night.
Key Player Grades
Cristiano Ronaldo: A
|Real Madrid Player Grades|
He now has an incredible 57 goals in his Champions League career—seven of which have come already this season. His control on the opener was exquisite, and he also showed the occasional desire to get back and help out on the defensive side of the ball when Madrid found themselves on the back-foot.
Angel Di Maria: A
|Juventus Player Grades|
The 25-year-old had 66 touches of the ball on Wednesday and was his side’s most consistent threat in the attacking third. (All statistics courtesy WhoScored.com.) His through-ball to Ronaldo after only four minutes earned him an assist, and he would have had a second had Benzema been able to find the wide-open net on the stroke of 60 minutes.
Arturo Vidal: A-
The Chilean absolutely ran his socks off for the cause at the Bernabeu, completing 91 percent of his passes and making an incredible 12 tackles. If there was a downside to his performance, it was his silly theatrics midway through the second half when he kicked himself to the ground and audaciously motioned that a penalty be given against Madrid.
Real Madrid have the little matter of El Clasico on Saturday, and they’ll welcome Sevilla to this stadium on October 30. Three days after that they’ll travel to Rayo Vallecano. Juventus, meanwhile, will host Genoa on Sunday and welcome Catania to Turin on October 30. On November 2 they’ll be away to Parma.
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