Champions League: Real Madrid Dominant Over Juventus
Real Madrid have strengthened their position as the European Cup’s dominant force with their 12th victory in the competition following their 4-1 triumph over Juventus in Cardiff – and have also become the first team to successfully defend the title in the UEFA Champions League era. No side had won successive European Cups since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, and Madrid were set on their way by Ronaldo’s deflected opener midway through the first half – their 500th goal in the competition. Mario Mandžukić swiftly brought Juve level with a stunning finish, but Madrid looked stronger thereafter and two goals in four minutes, from Casemiro and Ronaldo, and a late fourth by substitute Marco Asensio, clinched their third crown in four years.
Juventus might have lost their four previous UEFA Champions League finals – including 2015 – but they started full of confidence, Gonzalo Higuaín forcing Keylor Navas into action twice in the first five minutes before Miralem Pjanić’s stinging low shot was superbly pushed away by the goalkeeper.
Madrid, however, are masters of the clinical counterattack, and proved that again in the 20th minute. In a superb rapid break, Ronaldo played in Dani Carvajal down the right and found the space to sweep the ensuing low cross beyond Gianluigi Buffon and inside the far post with the help of a deflection off Leonardo Bonucci.
Juve came back strongly, though, and within seven minutes they were level. Gonzalo Higuaín flicked back to Mandžukić 15 metres out and, with his back to goal and defenders closing in, the Croatian improvised superbly to beat Navas with an acrobatic overhead kick.
With no let-up, Ronaldo miscued a header from Isco’s inviting cross as Madrid ended the first half on top and they carried that into the second period. A goal appeared to be in the offing and it duly arrived a minute past the hour, Casemiro’s first-time shot from 30 meters spinning in via a touch off Sami Khedira.
Three minutes later, the game was as good as settled. Luka Modrić was quickly in to win possession down the right, swap passes with Carvajal and deliver a fine cross to the near post where, inevitably, Ronaldo was waiting to divert beyond Buffon.
Juve never looked like mounting a second comeback and finished with ten men after substitute Juan Cuadrado tangled with Sergio Ramos to become the third player to be sent off in a European Cup final. Madrid crowned their evening in the closing seconds as Marcelo crossed for Asensio to slot in and complete a devastating second-half display.