Late Cristiano Ronaldo Penalty Puts Real Madrid Into Champions League Semis

Real Madrid’s dream of winning a third straight Champions League title is still alive — barely — after narrowly seeing off Juventus 4-3 on aggregate despite a 3-1 second-leg quarterfinal loss on Wednesday.

Juventus nearly pulled off an unlikely comeback, scoring three goals without reply before Cristiano Ronaldo’s stoppage-time penalty saved the hosts’ blushes and sent Los Blancos into the last-four of the competition.

The enthralling match was one full of anxiety for the home side as Max Allegri’s men nearly duplicated the feat performed by Serie A brothers Roma, who overturned a 4-1 first-leg loss to Barcelona on Tuesday night.

And the visitors stated their intent just seconds after the opening whistle, taking advantage of some slack Real defending to give their hopes of an improbable comeback early life.

In the second minute, Mario Mandzukic guided his header across Keylor Navas and into the gaping net after a curled Sami Khedira cross found him free from Dani Carvajal at the back post.

The teams took turns trading gilt-edged chances soon after, with Gonzalo Higuain failing to convert the best opportunity of all after a spilled cross fell into his path near the six-yard box.

Stephan Lichtsteiner was brought on for Mattia De Sciglio on 17 minutes after the former AC Milan right-back picked up an injury and couldn’t continue.

As the game settled down, Real carved out the better of the chances — Gianluigi Buffon’s denial of Isco from point-blank range maintaining Juve’s 1-0 goal lead on the day.

And it proved a vitally important save as Mandzukic cut Real’s aggregate advantage to one with a second header on 37 minutes — the Croatia forward out-leaping Carvajal and squeezing his header between Navas and the post after a Lichtsteiner cross from the right.

Zinedine Zidane brought off Gareth Bale and Casemiro after half-time but the moves couldn’t stem the Bianconeri tide.

And the tie was level just after the hour mark when Blaise Matuidi swept home at the goal line after Navas inexplicably dropped an in-swinging cross that fell into his chest.

However, Real would get the goal they needed deep into second-half stoppage time after a retreating Medhi Benatia brought down Lucas Vazquez in the box after a Ronaldo header found the second-half substitute with just Buffon to beat.

The decision caused an immediate reaction from Juve players and saw Buffon sent off for dissent, leaving substitute Wojciech SzczΔ™sny to stand in. But Ronaldo’s powerful shot from the spot was too good and Real booked their place in the semis.

 



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