TURIN, ITALY – Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest masterpiece was so good even the opposing fans had to stand up and applaud.
Ronaldo pulled off a spectacular overhead kick to score his second goal of the night on Tuesday as his Real Madrid beat Juventus 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. Even by Ronaldo’s record-breaking standards, this one was special.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had just pulled off a fantastic save to deny Lucas Vazquez but the move continued and Ronaldo leaped acrobatically into the air to meet a cross with his back to goal and smashed the ball into the bottom right corner.
Even the Juventus fans rose to give him an ovation, having jeered his every touch previously. And Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, himself considered one of the best players in history, clutched his head in amazement.
“Cristiano is simply a different player than all the others,” Zidane said. “He shows that every time. He always has a great desire to do great things in the Champions League, he never gets tired of doing what he does. . . . I’m the coach but also a fan. That’s why I put my hands on my head.”
Ronaldo had also scored the opening goal just three minutes into the game, and he later set up the third for Marcelo as Madrid took a commanding lead back home for the second leg.
In the process, the Portuguese star became the first player in Champions League history to score in 10 successive matches.
“There are two teams better than anyone and they are those that have (Lionel) Messi and Ronaldo,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “They have won 10 Ballons d’Or in 10 years, they have been the Champions League’s top goalscorers for 10 years.
“For that reason Real Madrid and Barcelona have the advantage.”
Juventus now has a near-impossible task to turn the quarterfinal around against the two-time defending champions in the return leg on April 11, after falling to their first home defeat in the Champions League since April 2013.
“You never know in football,” Allegri said. “We have to prepare it in the best way possible because it’s a quarterfinal and everyone will be watching us.”
In the night’s other game, Bayern Munich needed a couple of lucky bounces to prevent Sevilla from pulling off another Champions League upset.
After being outplayed by the hosts early on and conceding a 32nd-minute opener by Pablo Sarabia, Bayern came from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 in the first leg of their quarterfinal thanks to an own goal by Jesus Navas and a second-half header by Thiago Alcantara. Both times the ball deflected off a defender to take Sevilla goalkeeper David Soria out of play.
“Psychologically, it was very important to equalize quickly, even if it took a bit of luck,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. “But if we want to win the Champions League, we need to improve. . . . We lost the ball too often and lacked structure in midfield, which allowed Sevilla to create chances. We improved in the second half and in the end deserved to win.”
Bayern now only needs a draw in the second leg in Munich next week to reach the semifinals for the fifth time in six seasons.
Sevilla, playing in the last eight for the first time in 60 years after overcoming heavily favored Manchester United in the previous round, has never made it to the semifinals in the Champions League.
“We were unlucky,” Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella said. “We played well against a very strong Bayern team. We deserved more.”
In Turin, Juventus was out for revenge after losing the final 4-1 to Madrid last year. But Ronaldo once again came out on top.
The Portuguese forward has scored in every Champions League match this season and it took him less than three minutes to continue that tradition, thanks in part to a series of uncharacteristic defensive mistakes from Juventus.
Isco was left in acres of space on the left flank and he crossed in for an unmarked Ronaldo to poke the ball into the right side of the net.
The match changed shortly after the hour mark.
Buffon pulled off a fantastic save to deny Vazquez but the move continued and Ronaldo leaped acrobatically into the air with his back to goal and smashed the ball into the bottom right corner.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5