Soccer

Cristiano Ronaldo sends Juventus to quarterfinals as City crushes Schalke

AP

Cristiano Ronaldo made a mockery of Atletico Madrid’s vaunted defense, and then mocked its coach as well.

Ronaldo scored a hat trick against the normally resilient Spanish side to send Juventus into the Champions League quarterfinals with a 3-0 win on Tuesday as the Bianconeri fought back from a two-goal first-leg defeat.

The former Real Madrid player outjumped Atletico’s defenders to score a header in each half and then converted a late penalty for his first hat trick since joining Juventus in the summer — and just when they needed it most.

He celebrated at the final whistle by mimicking the obscene gesture Atletico coach Diego Simeone made after the Spanish side’s second goal in the first leg — having the final say against a rival he so often defeated as a Real Madrid player.

Simeone was fined €20,000 ($22,500) by UEFA for improper conduct and it remains to be seen whether Ronaldo will face a similar punishment.

It was Ronaldo’s eighth hat trick in the Champions League, moving him level with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and demonstrating why Juventus paid Real Madrid €112 million (then $131.5 million) for the Portugal star who has dominated the competition in recent years.

It was the first time Juventus came back from a two-goal defeat in the first leg.

“Maybe that’s why Juventus signed me,” Ronaldo said. “To help it do things that it had never done before. This result is a great push for the future, we’re strong and we showed it.”

The 34-year-old Ronaldo has won the Champions League five times, including in four of the last five seasons. Without him, Madrid was eliminated by Ajax last week.

However, Ronaldo had only scored one goal in the competition for Juventus until Tuesday.

“It would have been strange if Ronaldo’s Champions League season ended with only one goal,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Juventus signed him for nights like this and tonight he made the difference.”

For Atletico, it was more heartache in the competition in the year the final is being held in its Wanda Metropolitano Stadium — and more pain caused by Ronaldo. While at Madrid, Ronaldo helped beat Atletico in two Champions League finals.

He has also now scored 25 goals against Atletico in his career.

“He’s the best in the world,” Simeone said. “We suffered, as happened to them in the first leg. They’re through and that’s right. They deserved it … Maybe I didn’t manage to transmit to my players what we needed.”

Manchester City 7-0 Schalke

In Manchester, England, Pep Guardiola’s side established itself as legitimate Champions League contenders — no matter what the team’s manager might be saying in public — by thrashing Schalke for a 10-2 aggregate victory over the round of 16.

Even if history is not on their side — Guardiola recently called City a “teenage” side that is “still not ready to fight for the latter stages” — the form of his players certainly is.

Tuesday’s result made it 61 goals in 18 games in 2019, with only eight conceded. Perhaps more extraordinarily, it was the seventh time that City has scored six or more goals in a game this season.

“This club, the best success in the history (in the Champions League) is a semifinal, compared to Real Madrid with 13 (titles). Or Barcelona, Liverpool, Juventus, who have how many? Six, seven, eight?” Guardiola said. “It is why when the people say, ‘You have to win, you have to win,’ when you are out in the quarterfinals it is a disaster. It is not fair.”

This season’s round of 16 has featured some memorable comebacks so far — notably from Ajax and Manchester United last week — but Schalke’s chances of overturning a 3-2 first-leg deficit virtually disappeared when Sergio Aguero chipped home a 35th-minute penalty to make it 1-0 in the second leg at Etihad Stadium.

Aguero doubled the lead three minutes later after running onto Raheem Sterling’s deft backheel, Leroy Sane stroked in another goal before halftime, before Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus added second-half goals for City against the demoralized visitors from Germany.

The win equaled the 7-0s recorded by Bayern Munich against Basel (2012) and Shakhtar Donetsk (2015). The latter was achieved when Guardiola was coach at Bayern.

“We fell apart. The look of tension is the worst since I have been here,” said Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco, who is fighting for his job with his team just four points above the relegation zone in the Bundesliga.