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Cristiano Ronaldo nets hat-trick as Juventus stage stunning UCL comeback win over Atletico Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo nets hat-trick as Juventus stage stunning UCL comeback win over Atletico Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Juventus staged a stunning comeback win to overturn a first-leg deficit and beat Atletico Madrid 3-0 in Turin to reach the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

Trailing 2-0 on aggregate from the first leg in Madrid, Juventus ran out 3-0 winners thanks to an inspired performance from their Portuguese talisman as he scored a headed double and a late penalty to sink Atletico. 

It was an incredible game that, predictably, had Atletico's long-term tormentor Ronaldo at its heart.

The Portuguese was brought to Italy from Real Madrid for in excess of $100 million in the summer for nights like this, and he delivered in spectacular fashion to lead his team into the last eight.

It was a game that Juve dominated throughout, and they thought they had got off to the prefect start inside four minutes when Giorgio Chielleni turned home the ball from a corner after Atletico ‘keeper Jan Olblak had fumbled.

But after consultation with the VAR referee Bjorn Kuipers ruled Ronaldo had poked the ball out of Oblak’s hands, leaving the Portuguese number 7 fuming.

Juve continued to dominate the opening stages against the Spanish visitors’ notoriously stingy defense, and got the breakthrough their pressure deserved on 27 minutes when Ronaldo powered home a header at the back post, outjumping Juanfran from a pin-point Federico Bernardeschi cross.  

It was his 61st in the knockout stages of the Champions League – an incredible record from a man who has towered over the business end of the tournament for more than a decade.

It roused the Allianz Stadium crowd as they urged Juve on for the second, although Atletico almost equalized just before the break through a rare chance when Alvaro Morata headed over the bar.

But ominously for Atletico, Ronaldo’s goals against them have tended to come in clusters, and that was the case when he added his second of the night four minutes into the second half.

Again he showed incredible ability to get airborne from a standing jump, rising highest in a crowded box to meet a cross from Joaoa Cancelo to power a header goalwards.

Oblak got a hand to it to make what looked like a wonder save, but Dutch referee Kuipers whistled for the goal as he was given the signal – correctly – that the ball had crossed the line before Oblak clawed it back.

The tie was level, Ronaldo was rampant, and Atletico were on the ropes.

While the Spaniards belatedly began to come out of their shell, they were there for the taking, and substitute Moise Kean spurned a golden chance to seal it moments after coming on inside the last 10 minutes, when he raced through onto a through-ball, only to shoot agonizingly wide of the upright.

But shortly after on 86 minutes came the coup de grace for Ronaldo when Bernardeschi was bundled over in the box, setting the stage for the prolific Portuguese to clinch it for Juve.

He stepped up to blast the spot-kick past Oblak for this third of the night, and Juve saw out the game to send the Old Lady faithful into delirium.

As he reminded Atletico fans as they taunted him after the 2-0 defeat in the first leg, Ronaldo has a haul of five Champions League titles, and was brought to Turin to end Juve’s woeful run of five defeats in finals since they last won Europe’s top club title in 1996.

He showed he is intent on making good on that, and as Juve players celebrated wildly at the final whistle, Diego Simeone's team looked distraught - they had been undone yet again by their most familiar of foes.  

 

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