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Real Madrid

Real Madrid edge Bayern to reach third successive final

Reigning European champions Real Madrid moved into their third successive Champions League final as they edged out Bayern Munich in a thrilling semi-final second leg.

Trailing 2-1 after the first leg in Germany, Bayern needed a win at the Bernabeu to reach the final but it finished 2-2 as Real clinched a 4-3 aggregate victory.

Joshua Kimmich scored early on for the German champions from six yards out, before Karim Benzema headed in for Real from Marcelo's fine left-wing cross eight minutes later.

A second for Benzema, after a horrendous mistake from Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, put Real in control, although Bayern's on-loan James Rodriguez then scored against his parent club to set up a dramatic finale.

Bayern had chances to win it, but Corentin Tolisso and Thomas Muller's efforts were saved by Keylor Navas and Mats Hummels headed wide as the Spanish side held on.

Real will face either Liverpool or Roma in the final in Kiev, Ukraine, on 26 May with Jurgen Klopp's side leading 5-2 before Wednesday's second leg in Rome.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

CL: Madrid beat Bayern 2-1

Real Madrid took control of their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich with victory in the first leg at the Allianz Arena.

The holders, attempting to win the competition for the third successive season, struggled defensively but were clinical in attack - and Marcelo and Marco Asensio scored either side of half-time.

Marcelo smashed home a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area to level matters before Asensio capitalised on an error by Rafinha to score a breakaway goal.

Joshua Kimmich had put Bayern in front when he slotted past Keylor Navas at the near post.

The German champions missed a host of chances in an error-strewn encounter, while Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for handball as his run of scoring in every game of this year's competition ended.

Bayern must now score at least twice at the Bernabeu next Tuesday to prevent Real reaching a fourth final in five years.

Real grind it out again

Real have become specialists at progressing through the European knockout rounds in recent seasons, and this win was a perfect example of their ability to grind out results.

The defensive issues which led to a 3-1 defeat in their dramatic quarter-final second leg against Juventus resurfaced in the first half here, and they could have been further behind before Marcelo scored against the run of play.

Manager Zinedine Zidane made a change at half-time - replacing forward Isco with Asensio - but the game initially continued in the same vein.

However, when Rafinha gave the ball away near the halfway line, Lucas Vazquez and Asensio pounced at pace before the latter calmly lifted the ball home.

Real are third in La Liga and have lost twice in Europe already this season - against Spurs and Juventus - but they look well placed to reach yet another final.

They may not look as dominant as in the past two seasons, but they remain on course to become the first team since Bayern in 1976 to win a third successive European Cup.

More to follow.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Ronaldo penalty puts Real through to the final in dramatic style

Cristiano Ronaldo's injury-time penalty put holders Real Madrid through to the Champions League semi-finals after holding off a stunning Juventus comeback.

Ronaldo's coolly-taken 97th-minute penalty into the top corner came after Medhi Benatia brought down Lucas Vazquez in the box.

Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, in what might be his last Champions League appearance, was sent off by English referee Michael Oliver after awarding the spot-kick, for foul and abusive language.

Real, Champions League winners in three of the past four seasons, came into the second leg leading 3-0, helped by Ronaldo's stunning bicycle kick.

But the Serie A leaders got off to a dream start when Mario Mandzukic headed in from Sami Khedira's cross after just two minutes and Mandzukic got a second before half-time.

Blaise Matuidi pounced to capitalise on Keylor Navas' fumble to level the tie on aggregate, before the dramatic ending.

Real join Liverpool, Roma and Bayern Munich in the last-four draw, which takes place in Nyon on Friday at 12:00 BST.

Chaotic ten minutes in Madrid

The game looked to be heading for extra time before a chaotic final few minutes saw even the calmest of players lose control.

  • 90th minute: Benatia push on Vazquez is adjudged to be a foul and Oliver points to the spot. Benatia booked and furious Juve players surround the referee, incensed at the decision.
  • 93rd minute: Buffon remonstrates too vociferously, screaming and pointing his finger in the direction of Oliver and is shown a red card.
  • 96th minute: Juve striker Gonzalo Higuain is brought off and replaced by on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
  • 97th minute: Ronaldo despatches the penalty into the top right-hand corner.
  • 98th minute: Ronaldo is booked for taking off his shirt while celebrating in front of the home supporters.
  • 99th minute: Referee blows for full-time.

More to follow.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Gareth Bale's reaction to Cristiano Ronaldo's overhead kick vs Juventus is very telling

Cristiano Ronaldo stunned the footballing world during Real Madrid’s Champions League clash with Juventus.

He opened the scoring within three minutes but it was what he did in the 64th-minute that had everyone talking.

The Portuguese superstar produced a quite incredible bicycle kick which flew past Gianluigi Buffon to put Madrid 2-0 ahead in Turin.

 

It sent Twitter into meltdown and even earned him a standing ovation from the Juve fans inside the stadium.

Even his boss Zinedine Zidane couldn’t contain his amazement.

 

But there was one person inside the Juventus Stadium that didn’t seem quite as stunned as everyone else - Gareth Bale.

Now, a video is already doing the rounds of his lack of celebration for Cristiano’s opening goal.

HOW BALE REACTED TO CRISTIANO'S OVERHEAD KICK

But his reaction to his teammate’s ridiculous overhead kick is even more baffling.

With the rest of the substitutes standing up, putting their hands on their heads in disbelief, Bale is just sat there clapping slowly. It’s as if Ronaldo had just scored a two-yard tap-in.

Even neutral football fans at home would have had a more enthusiastic reaction to the goal than Bale.

Just take a look:

BALE CLEARLY DOESN'T LOOK HAPPY

We’d hate to throw Bale under the bus but it’s a really, really poor reaction from the Welshman.

Obviously, he wasn’t too happy to spend the entire match on the bench but surely he should be getting behind his side - especially when Cristiano has just scored one of the best goals the Champions League has ever seen.

 

After the match, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner thanked the Juventus fans for the appreciation they showed him after his incredible strike.

“Obviously people are talking about my second goal....it was a spectacular goal, possibly the best of my career,” he said. “This was one of the nicest moments. To be applauded by the Juventus stadium, where so many great footballers have played, is a top moment for me.

“It's something that stays in your heart...I want to thank all the Italians who were here in the stadium and applauded me.”

He probably won’t be thanking Bale for his reaction, though…

Written by Gideon Sarpong

The night Juventus rose to applaud Ronaldo

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane's reaction said it all.

Hand to his head, a look of disbelief on his face at what he had just seen, he turned and bellowed his approval. As a player, the Frenchman scored plenty of stunning goals himself in Turin - but what he had just witnessed from Cristiano Ronaldo was special.

Ronaldo's second goal for the Spanish giants in their 3-0 Champions League quarter-final first-leg victory at Juventus was one of the great strikes - the 33-year-old Portuguese rising almost unnaturally high before acrobatically firing the ball into the corner of the net with an incredible bicycle kick.

Seconds after the ball hit the net, the Juve fans followed Zidane's lead, rising to applaud the man who has, in all likelihood, ended their interest in the Champions League for this season.

BBC Radio 5 live's Pat Nevin, who was at the game, was equally stunned. "When the ball comes across to him you think: 'Oh, you're not going to try an overhead kick.' And then, bang! Oh wow! Just see it, watch it," said the former Scotland winger.

"It is unnatural. People are talking about how Ronaldo is getting a bit older now - but there is nothing wrong with that body if he can do that sort of thing. The timing of it is extraordinary, the imagination to do it is extraordinary.

"A lot of the Juventus fans stayed behind to applaud Ronaldo. To turn around this coliseum to his side - wow. Call it genius if you like.

"It is one of the great goals you will see in football."

  • Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in his past nine games for Real - 25 in his past 13 for club and country.
  • He has scored 39 goals in 36 games for Real this season - more goals than anyone else who plays in one of Europe's top five leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain).
  • The Portuguese has scored in his past 10 Champions League games - all nine this season and last year's final - netting 16 times in that run.
  • Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time top scorer with 119 - 19 clear of Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
  • He has scored nine of his past 11 shots on target against legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
  • Ronaldo has scored the first Real Madrid goal of a Champions League game in 10 of the past 14 games.
  • He has scored 22 goals in Champions League quarter-finals, one more than Juventus. Only five teams, including Real Madrid, have scored more.
  • Ronaldo has either scored (14) or assisted (three) 68% of Real's 25 Champions League goals this season.
  • He has scored in each of his six games against Juventus - nine goals in total. No player has more against a single opponent in the Champions League.

"It is one of those ones where you just say: 'Oh, you're just egging it up a bit, you're exaggerating for pure commentary purposes,'" added Nevin.

"No, absolutely no. That is one of the great goals you will see… I was going to say Champions League football, but, basically, football.

"Talking about how high his foot is, when he goes for the kick there Mattia de Sciglio is jumping up to head the ball and Ronaldo's foot is above his head. It has to be seven and a half feet.

"I would love to be able to tell you how to score a goal like that, but I never have. But if you don't practise that and you try it in a game you can break your back. You need technique to get up and hit it - but you need to be able to land properly as well. He has all this in his mind and computes it in a millisecond. It is special.

"He knows how to time his form, usually when Real are looking to win something, like the Champions League. He also wants to win that Ballon d'Or. Normal humans don't think along those lines on a football pitch, they think about how to win a game. But he is so far ahead."

BBC World Service's John Bennett said: "I don't think he has scored a better goal than that.

"I remember the Porto one [for Manchester United in 2009]. It is how you judge great goals. The technique for that overhead kick makes it the greatest goal Ronaldo has ever scored."

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon: "Ronaldo is an extraordinary champion. Together with Lionel Messi, he is the only one that punctuates his team's most important victories, and is to be compared to [Diego] Maradona and Pele."

Juve defender Andrea Barzagli: "Cristiano made up the second goal. It's a Playstation goal. When you come up against one of the best in the world like Ronaldo, you need to be perfect. If you give him any space, he'll punish you. He scored a goal that will go down in history - and unfortunately it was against us."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri: "I don't know if Cristiano's goal is the best in the history of football, but it's certainly an extraordinary goal. You can only congratulate him for what he's doing at present."

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane: "Cristiano Ronaldo is different. He's a different player to everyone else and he always has this desire to do something extraordinary in the Champions League. He never rests on his laurels.

"His overhead kick was remarkable, yet he missed two much easier chances. That's football."

Credit: BBC

Written by Gideon Sarpong

CL: Ronaldo scores a stunner as Real thrash Juve

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, including a stunning bicycle kick, as Real Madrid took control of their Champions League quarter-final against Juventus with a convincing first-leg win.

The Real forward made history with his opener when he prodded home Isco's cross - becoming the first player to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games.

The Italian side had chances to equalise in a decent first half, although Toni Kroos went close to doubling Real's lead when he hit the crossbar with a 25-yard effort.

Then came one of the great Champions League moments. Dani Carvajal lifted a cross to the Portuguese, who soared in the air and sent a flying acrobatic kick past Gianluigi Buffon, who had no chance.

Such was the brilliance of the strike that Juventus fans stood up to applaud the goal that probably ended their hopes of going through.

It got even worse for the Turin side, who lost last year's final to Real, as Paulo Dybala was shown a second yellow card for a high boot in the best of Carvajal.

And Marcelo effectively booked Real's place in the last four when he played a one-two with Ronaldo before scoring from close range.

More to follow.

Written by Gideon Sarpong