CL: Morata sends Juventus into final as champs Real Madrid exit
Madrid: Juventus will face Barcelona in the Champions League final after Alvaro Morata came back to haunt former club and holders Real Madrid with the precious away goal in a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their semi-final on Wednesday to progress 3-2 on aggregate.
Juventus' players celebrate winning after the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match Real Madrid FC vs Juventus at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. Pic/AFP
With Juventus leading 2-1 from the first leg, Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half penalty had put the hosts ahead on away goals. However, Morata, who left Madrid for the Italian champions last July, struck the vital blow when he volleyed home Paul Pogba's knockdown on 57 minutes to take Juventus to their first final in 12 years in Berlin on June 6. "After the first goal we thought it was done," said Madrid defender Sergio Ramos.
"We have to congratulate them. They have gone through because they have done things better. "It wasn't just one game but two. Here we didn't score enough goals and weren't efficient in front of goal." Soaring temperatures of over 30 degrees celsius didn't prevent a frantic start to the match as the hosts went looking for the goal they needed from the off. Gareth Bale had the first chance as he headed over Marcelo's cross before Karim Benzema blasted off target from a narrow angle having turned Stephan Lichtsteiner brilliantly inside the area.
Giorgio Chiellini brings down James Rodriguez in the box after the forward had burst in from the left. In the resulting penalty, Ronaldo steps up and sidefoots the ball high down the middle with his right foot as Gianluigi Buffon dives to his right
Ronaldo then saw a free-kick deflected narrowly over, but Juventus were also enjoying good spells of possession and Iker Casillas was forced into action on 13 minutes when he turned Arturo Vidal's effort from the edge of the box to safety. Benzema breached the Juventus backline once more six minutes later, but his pass was behind Ronaldo and the Portuguese couldn't turn the ball into an unguarded net.
The unrelenting Madrid pressure continued as Bale's piledriver was brilliantly turned behind by Gianluigi Buffon. However, there was nothing the Italian captain could do to prevent Ronaldo registering his 10th goal in Champions League semi-finals from the spot after James Rodriguez had been felled by Giorgio Chiellini midway through the half.
Andrea Pirlo whips a free-kick into the six-yard box. Iker Casillas punches the ball which is then nodded back into the box where Paul Pogba heads the ball for Alvaro Morata to thump a left-footer past the unsighted Casillas from 12 yards into the goal
Buffon came to his side's rescue with two more saves from Benzema, whilst Ronaldo also smashed into the side-netting and wasted a clear opening by trying to square for Isco with the goal at his mercy before half-time. Claudio Marchisio was first to take aim after the break as his driven effort flew just beyond Casillas's right-hand post. Juventus did get the all-important away goal just before the hour mark when Madrid failed to fully clear from Andrea Pirlo's free-kick and Morata was on hand to volley home after Pogba outmuscled Sergio Ramos.
Bale had the chance to silence his critics five minutes later as Marcelo stormed down the left and his low cross was sliced wide by the Welshman at the near post. Casillas kept Madrid in the tie as he spread himself to make a fine save from Marchisio as the game raged from end to end. Bale headed over from Ronaldo's cross as the European champions grip on the trophy started to slip away.
Casillas denied Juventus victory on the night by getting strong hands to Pogba's drive. But their captain's efforts were in vain as Madrid's final realistic hopes of winning a major trophy this season disappeared and Juventus progressed to their eighth European Cup final.
'The fiasco of the century,' screamed Spanish sports paper Marca's front-page headline. A smaller headline read: 'Real Madrid fails at the Bernabeu and misses a historic opportunity to play in the mother of all finals.'
It had to be Morata,' read the headline in AS. Juventus' Alvaro Morata, who did not celebrate the goals against Real, was quoted on the front page as saying: "I wish I had scored against a different team."
Barcelona-based El Mundo Deportivo's headline read 'Mamma Mia!!' The publication rubbed salt in Real's wounds by pointing out that they would end the campaign empty handed. A sub-headline said: 'Real Madrid end without the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey.'
Catalan newspaper SPORT joked: 'What a shame!' on their cover accompanied by a a smiley face winking. Their cover adds: 'Three-time failure for Madrid' while focusing on Barcelona's trip to Berlin to face the Italian champions.
Gazzetta dello Sport's headline read: 'Fiesta! A heroic draw in Madrid. Juve's eighth final will be against Messi.' Turin-based Tuttosport's headline read: 'Yes, Juve, Yes. Fantastic 1-1 draw in Madrid. To Berlin on June 6 to make history.'
Corriere dello Sport showed a picture of Juve's players celebrating Morata's goal with the headline 'Heroics!' followed by a smaller headline: 'Gigantic Juve in the Champions League' and 'Morata replies to Ronaldo'.