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Superb Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick leads Juve into quarter-finals

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first ever hat trick for Juventus as the Italian side fought back from a first-leg defeat to Atletico Madrid to progress to the Champions League quarterfinals with a 3-2 aggregate victory

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a hat-trick against his favourite opponents Atletico Madrid as the Italians overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit to win 3-0 and reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Ronaldo blasted home the decisive goal from a penalty with four minutes left to seal a 3-2 overall triumph having made the breakthrough in the 27th minute and levelled the aggregate score three minutes after halftime with another towering header.

It was his eighth hat-trick in the Champions League, pulling him level with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, and took the Portugal international’s tally in his favourite club competition, where he is the all-time leading scorer, to 124.

The former Real Madrid player, aiming to win the Champions League for the sixth time with his third different club, having also lifted the trophy with Manchester United, took his tally against Atletico to 25 goals in 33 matches in all competitions.

“This was why Juventus brought me here, to help do things that they have never done before,” said Ronaldo, now 34. “This is the mentality you need to win in the Champions League.”

Shell-shocked Atletico failed to muster a shot on target as they paid the price for an ultra-cautious approach by defensive-minded coach Diego Simeone in the last-16 second leg tie.

“Simply an epic match,” said Juve’s Giorgio Chiellini. “The best way to celebrate my 500th appearance for the club.”

RONALDO HEADER
Defender Chiellini had the ball in the visitors’ net after just four minutes following a goalmouth scramble but it was disallowed for foul by Ronaldo on goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

The Serie A side bombarded the Atletico area with crosses but made little headway against a packed defence until Federico Bernardeschi switched to the left and floated a cross to the far post where Ronaldo outjumped Juanfran to head in.

With Atletico making little effort to look for the away goal that could have changed the complexion of the tie, Juventus continued to press forward.

Bernardeschi curled a free kick over the crossbar and also produced an ambitious bicycle kick which flew wide before Chiellini had a header tipped over by Oblak.

Atletico’s first real chance fell to on-loan striker Alvaro Morata who got between two defenders to meet Koke’s cross from the right only to head over.

Juve went straight back on the attack after the break and quickly levelled the aggregate score at 2-2.

Ronaldo met Joao Cancelo’s cross with another powerful header and although Oblak clawed the ball away, goal line technology showed that it had crossed the line by centimetres and the referee signalled a goal.

Atletico brought on Vitolo and Angel Correa in an attempt to add more bite to their attack but to no avail.

With extra-time looming, Bernardeschi powered into the area and was pushed in the back by Correa, leaving Ronaldo to blast home the penalty to the delight of the Juve supporters.

Ronaldo does what Juventus hired him to do

Juventus have never before overturned a two-goal deficit at home in European competition – but then they never had Cristiano Ronaldo leading their attack.

If the aim of buying the five-times World Player of the Year really was to make a difference on big Champions League nights it certainly paid off on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old got his eighth Champions League hat-trick, two headers and a late penalty, as Juve overturned a 2-0 last-16 first leg deficit against Atletico Madrid by winning 3-0.

“It was meant to be a special night and it was, not just for my goals but for the attitude we showed,” said Ronaldo. “That is the sort of mentality you need to win the Champions League.

“This was why Juventus brought me here,” he added. “To help do things that they have never done before.”

It was all very different to the first leg where former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo was jeered by Atletico fans and the home side’s second goal took a deflection off him.

Angry at the barracking, the Portuguese replied by holding up five fingers to remind them of the five times he had won Europe’s elite club competition.

Ronaldo, who one year ago scored a memorable bicycle kick goal for Real at Juve in a Champions League match and was applauded off the field by the home fans in Turin, had also begun to look stale in recent Serie A matches.

But he was rested against Udinese on Friday and was raring to go on Tuesday.

Atletico, who had not conceded a goal in their previous four Champions League games, packed their defence believing they could shut Ronaldo out again.

They made no serious attempt to get an away goal which could have put a different complexion on the tie and paid the price

With Federico Bernardeschi pumping crosses into the area, Atletico were never able cope with Ronaldo’s aerial threat.

“Atletico are a really tough team to face, but we are strong too and proved we deserved to go through,” said Ronaldo.

Allegri delighted with fluid Juve performance

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri praised his team’s fluid performance after they beat Atletico Madrid 3-0 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Allegri was worried his side could lose their cool as they trailed 2-0 from the first leg but his fears were unfounded.

“The boys read the game in the best possible way, playing at a high tempo and exploiting the width of the pitch,” he said.

“I wanted to us play like that also in the first leg, but then I changed something and it didn’t go the right way.

“It was a fluid, cool and calm performance. We had been waiting for this evening for a long time and we risked having a frenetic game, instead we had to pressure them whilst also keeping a balance, and we did it.”

His opposite number Diego Simeone, who had set his team up to defend their lead, had no complaints about the result.

“Juventus were better and deserved to win the game. They pushed us back,” he said.

“You must congratulate opponents when they play a game like that and you are beaten like today. We made many mistakes, for sure, but I mean me not the players. They were better tactically and on second balls. That is why they won the game.”

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