Real Madrid retain Champions League with 4-1 win over Juventus

0

Real Madrid of Spain made history on Saturday by retaining the Champions League with a 4-1 win over Juventus of Italy.
It was an enthralling match that saw the giants from Madrid triumph over the Italian league champions in Cardiff, the Welsh capital.
A Cristiano Ronaldo brace helped Real Madrid claim European club football’s biggest prize and become the first team to retain the Champions League since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990. The Portuguese forward scored the first and third goals in a 4-1 win.
No club had won back-to-back titles since the introduction of the Champions League in 1992 – Milan had been the last team to retain the European Cup, back in 1990.
But Zinedine Zidane’s men followed up last year’s victory over Atletico Madrid with a 4-1 victory over Juve at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, with Casemiro and substitute Marco Asensio also on target.
It earned them a record 12th European title, five more than any other club.
Cristiano Ronaldo also became the first player to score in three different Champions League finals
Zidane had only one real selection dilemma, opting to retain Isco in his starting line-up, despite the return to fitness of Cardiff-born Gareth Bale, who was used only as a second-half substitute.
James Rodriguez did not even make the bench, surely signalling the end of his time at the club.
There were no surprises in the Juve line-up, although Max Allegri did make a slight tweak to his system – starting with four at the back, with Dani Alves and Mario Mandzukic on the wings.
If there was any expectation that Juventus might look to contain Real Madrid, that was quickly dispelled as the Italians started the game with the greater energy – clearly keen to make up for defeat in each of their previous four Champions League finals.
Gonzalo Higuain was twice denied by Keylor Navas in the opening stages, before the Costa Rican goalkeeper had to make an even better save to keep out Miralem Pjanic’s powerful drive from outside the box.
Real Madrid had begun slowly but they took the lead with their first shot of the game in the 20th minute.
Give Cristiano Ronaldo a chance and he will punish you – that’s exactly what he did as he played in Dani Carvajal on the right, then swept home the resulting cross in typically clinical fashion, to round off a neat move that started in Real Madrid’s own half.
A slight deflection off Leonardo Bonucci helped to take the ball out of the reach of Gianluigi Buffon.
The lead lasted only seven minutes though, as Mandzukic controlled the ball on his chest and fired a stunning overhead kick into the top corner.
A penny for Zidane’s thoughts at that moment – Mandzukic’s strike was surely the best Champions League goal since Zizou’s famous effort against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002.
It was the second time that Mandzukic had struck in a Champions League final – he also scored for Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
But it was Real Madrid who started the second half on top, with Modric switching to the right to counter the threat of Juve’s raiding left back Alex Sandro. The Croatian cut infield to test Buffon with a long-range effort, before Isco blasted a shot off target from the edge of the box.
Juventus conceded more goals in the final than they did in the rest of their entire Champions League campaign.
The Spaniards soon had the lead back: Juventus only half cleared and Casemiro’s low 30-yard shot took a wicked deflection off Sami Khedira that took it just out of Buffon’s reach and into the bottom corner.
A second deflected Real Madrid goal summed up Buffon’s luck in the Champions League – it was perhaps a metaphor for a trophy that may forever remain just out of his grasp.
This year’s trophy was certainly beyond him just three minutes later as the brilliant Modric hooked in a cross for Ronaldo to convert from close range for his second goal of the match.
Juve substitute Juan Cuadrado was sent off six minutes from time after harshly picking up a second booking for a shove on Sergio Ramos, which the Spaniard certainly appeared to make the most of.
But by then, the game was already beyond the Serie A side, and sub Asensio turned home Marcelo’s left-wing cross in the 90th minute to round off a convincing victory, as Real Madrid clinched La Duodecima.