Real Madrid Become 1st Team to Defend UCL Crown with 4-1 Win over Juventus

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2017

Real Madrid's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Juventus and Real Madrid at The Principality Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on June 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO        (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo led Real Madrid to the UEFA Champions League title on Saturday, scoring twice in a 4-1 win over Juventus at the National Stadium of Wales. With the victory, the Spanish side became the first team to repeat as champions since the tournament changed to its current format.

Ronaldo gave Real the lead after a fast start from the Bianconeri, but Mario Mandzukic pulled his side level with a stunning strike, summing up what was a highly entertaining first half.

While Juventus held a slight edge in the initial half, Real dominated the second, with Casemiro and Ronaldo reclaiming the advantage with a quick double. The brace marked Ronaldo's 600th career goal for club and country.

Juventus ended the match with 10 players, as Juan Cuadrado was sent off. Marco Asensio added a late fourth goal.

Tom Williams of Agence France-Presse shared the team sheet for the match:

Juventus started with plenty of intensity, and Gonzalo Higuain headed the first chance into the arms of Keylor Navas after three minutes. Less than a minute later, he again put the Costa Rican to work.

The Bianconeri continued their push, and Miralem Pjanic went very close, with Navas making another fine save. Both the Bianconeri start and the save impressed Copa90:

Real recovered after the first 10 minutes and started to see more possession, but they had to wait until the 20th minute to earn their first chance. Dani Carvajal calmly slotted the ball in the path of Ronaldo, who fired a deflected shot into the bottom corner to give his team the lead.

Per B/R Football, it was almost inevitable:

Juventus tried to hit back but failed to break down the Spanish defence until a moment of magic between Higuain and Mandzukic. The former kept the ball alive before lobbing it to the Croat, who took a touch off the chest and beat Navas with a bicycle kick.

The Guardian's Paolo Bandini said what many were thinking:

On the other side of the pitch, Real mustered few chances, but when they did venture near Gianluigi Buffon, they always threatened. Ronaldo could have doubled his tally with a diving header but couldn't make great contact, sending his effort wide.

The Bianconeri dominated possession, however, and should have won a free-kick from a dangerous position after a hand ball from Ronaldo. At half-time the teams balanced each other out well, and the score was 1-1. Former U.S. men's national team player Jimmy Conrad summed up the proceedings:

The second half got off to a false start, as Leonardo Bonucci required treatment after a few minutes, halting proceedings. Dani Alves also took a knock, again stopping play.

The first chance fell to Luka Modric, but Buffon easily saved his shot. The Italians struggled to keep up with the pace, leading to several half chances for Isco and Ronaldo. 

A goal seemed inevitable, as the Bianconeri kept losing the ball, and it was Casemiro who found the net with another deflected effort. Eurosport UK couldn't help themselves:

And just minutes later, Ronaldo doubled the lead. Juventus failed to clear a ball, and it eventually fell back in front of goal, where the Portugal international cleverly dinked a shot over Buffon.

David Amoyal of Gianluca Di Marzio crowned the champions with 25 minutes left on the clock:

Los Blancos continued to dominate after the two quick goals, despite the introductions of Cuadrado and Claudio Marchisio. Ronaldo could have completed his hat-trick after 72 minutes but lifted a shot over the bar from close range.

Alex Sandro had a half chance to reduce the deficit, pushing a cross wide, but when Cuadrado was sent off for a second bookable offence in the span of minutes, Juventus' last hopes were gone.

Asensio added insult to injury with a late goal, sending the Spanish fans into an early celebration in Cardiff.


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