TURIN, Italy (AP) — 10:43 p.m.
So that’s it. Juventus will travel to Madrid for the semifinal second leg next Wednesday nursing a 2-1 lead. That leaves Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri with a big question: stick or twist?
Seeking to defend such a narrow lead at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium will only invite Madrid on. Preventing Cristiano Ronaldo, who got his 76th Champions League goal on this enthralling Tuesday night in Turin, from scoring for 90 minutes at home is a massive challenge, even for defense-minded Italians.
Based on tonight’s performance, the better option would be to take the game to Carlo Ancelotti’s team, look for an early away goal as Juventus did here, and then hold on.
Former Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata came back to haunt his old club as he sent Juventus on its way to a 2-1 victory over the holders in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Tuesday.
Morata, who moved to Juventus in the offseason shortly after helping Madrid to a record 10th Champions League title, didn’t celebrate after scoring the opening goal in the ninth minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the competition’s all-time top scorer with Madrid’s equalizer in the 27th minute but his former Manchester United teammate Carlos Tevez restored Juventus’ lead from the spot shortly before the hour after being brought down by Dani Carvajal.
Juventus will continue its bid to reach its first final since 2003 in the return leg in Madrid on May 13.
RESULT: Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1.
Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal is living dangerously, booked by Martin Atkinson for bringing down Juventus forward Alvaro Morata. Morata has shone against his former club, Madrid, and got well-earned applause from the Juventus Stadium as he was replaced by Fernando Llorente. Carvajal also gave away the penalty for Juventus’ second goal.
With Madrid starting to flag and Juventus ahead, the crowd is in boisterous mood, singing the Italian national anthem.
“Brothers of Italy, Italy has woken” go the words. Appropriate given that Juventus is the first Italian team to get this far since 2010.
Juventus are looking relatively comfortable with the 2-1 lead in the semifinal first leg.
A nice nugget of color momentarily lost in all the excitement: Juventus’ veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon couldn’t bear to watch teammate Carlos Tevez take his penalty. He turned his back to the action and only learned of the goal from the ecstatic reaction of Juventus fans.
Referee Martin Atkinson showed no hesitation in awarding a penalty to Juventus. Rightly so, because Dani Carvajal’s attempted tackle of Carlos Tevez was terribly clumsy, bringing down the Argentine striker as he was haring with ball at feet for Iker Casillas’ goal.
That is the seventh Champions League goal this season for Tevez, a previous winner of the trophy with Manchester United.
Atkinson has been busy: He also showed a yellow card to Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal for dissent and to Marcelo for bringing down Alvaro Morata off the ball before Tevez was felled.
Tevez was also booked in the first minute of the second half. The first five minutes of the half were littered with fouls as each team sought to impose itself.
Juventus 2 (Carlos Tevez, penalty) Real Madrid 1
Fiu! That’s Italian for “phew,” totally fitting for a furious Champions League semi-final first half when Juventus came sprinting out of the blocks, scoring early, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to even things out with a precious away goal.
James Rodriguez will probably be having nightmares about his late header that scorched Gianluigi Buffon’s bar. Stunning that the Real Madrid forward, top goal scorer at the 2014 World Cup, could miss from so close.
In the second half, Juventus needs to rediscover the early intensity that made Madrid look shaky, especially in defense. Another away goal for Madrid will make life very tough for Juventus in the second leg.
Halftime: Juventus 1 Real Madrid 1
Of the two managers, Carlo Ancelotti perhaps has the most at stake: If Real Madrid makes the June 6 final and retains its title, he’ll become the first coach to win the trophy four times.
But he’s been the calmer of the two coaches here in Turin, even when Madrid was behind. His Juventus counterpart, Massimiliano Allegri, is pacing his area and struggling to stick to the confines of his box.
Who else? It didn’t take long — 26 minutes — for Cristiano Ronaldo to make his mark, yet again. The world player of the year made Juventus pay the price for leaving him unmarked in front of Gianluigi Buffon’s goal. Shocking defending, especially for an Italian team. A simple header off a sublime volleyed cross from James Rodriguez gave Ronaldo his 54th goal of the season.
Prior to that, Ronaldo was taking time to hit his stride. He hit an early free kick from a good position into the Juventus wall and also fired a shot wide.
He reacted aggressively to the holding tactics of the Juve defense, angrily chopping a rival’s arm that was gripping his shirt.
GOAL! Juventus 1, Real Madrid 1 (Cristiano Ronaldo)
Sergio Ramos, usually a pillar of the Madrid defense, is reprising a midfield role in the absence of the injured Luka Modric, but he’s having a tough time, producing some sloppy play. Raphael Varane and Pepe are also having a torrid time at the heart of the Madrid defense.
The Juventus Stadium is rocking on the vibes of Morata’s early 9th minute goal.
Goal! Juventus 1, Real Madrid 0.
Told you Carlos Tevez was looking dangerous. Iker Casillas got a diving hand to the Argentine striker’s fierce shot but Alvaro Morata was there to mop up, tapping in from five yards (meters) against his former club.
A nervous moment for Madrid in the very first minute, as Arturo Vidal bursts into the reigning champion’s box and takes what can kindly be called a tumble. Referee Martin Atkinson wasn’t fooled. No penalty.
The noise is deafening as names of the Juventus players are announced in the stadium. Almost every home fan is standing, holding scarves over their heads and singing along to the club song. “Juve, storia di grande amore” is how the chorus starts, “Juve, story of a great love”
English referee Martin Atkinson is leading the players out.
One of the “B’s” in Real Madrid’s so-called “BBC” attack force is back. The speedy Gareth Bale is in Carlo Ancelotti’s starting XI, recovered from the injury that forced him to miss the quarterfinal second-leg 1-0 win against Atletico that got Madrid into the semis.
The other “B” — striker Karim Benzema — is still missing, also injured. But Madrid has its mighty “C” — Cristiano Ronaldo, current world player of the year.
Javier Hernandez, who scored the late winner against Atletico, drops to the bench. Marcelo returns from suspension.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has made one change to his very defensive team that held Monaco to a scoreless draw in the quarterfinal second-leg, putting Juventus through to the semis thanks to its first-leg penalty goal.
Allegri has dropped the defense-minded Andrea Barzagli to the bench, replacing him with Stefano Sturaro in midfield. Up front, former Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata is paired with Carlos Tevez, who is on a hot scoring streak, with six goals in the competition to add to the 20 he has scored in Serie A this campaign. He also bagged two in the Italian Super Cup.
If tonight is the main course, tomorrow comes dessert: Barcelona hosting Bayern Munich on Wednesday in the first leg of the other semifinal.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, who led Barcelona to 14 titles before heading to Germany, sounded a little conflicted about his homecoming.
“Barca is a very important part of my life. Until now it was everything, but I am here to win,” he said at the Camp Nou dressed in a bright red Bayern shirt. “It’s inevitable not to remember things now. When I joined Bayern, sooner or later this could happen, but the first time is the first time. I am not here for an homage but to see Bayern through to the final.”
What a football feast. On a warm, dry but overcast evening here in Turin, two giants of the game — Juventus and Real Madrid — play the first of two semifinal legs for a place in the June 6 Champions League final in Berlin. Fans have been gathering outside the Juventus Stadium since early afternoon and flocked at the gates where the team buses drive through, hoping to glimpse the players.
They greeted Madrid’s bus with both boos and cheers. Other fans are playing football in a nearby car park.
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