A Cristiano Ronaldo penalty in stoppage time spared Real Madrid’s blushes as they held off an impressive Juventus comeback in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. The Santiago Bernabéu witnessed a sensational two-goal salvo from Mario Mandzukic in the first-half to bring the Italian champions back into the tie, before a Keylor Navas error led to Blaise Matuidi tapping home the seemingly improbable equaliser. However, Ronaldo, who cherishes the big moments, scored from the spot kick after Medhi Benatia barged into Lucas Vasquez to spark wild protests from the Bianconeri, which saw the dismissal of legendary goalkeeper Gigi Buffon. For Real, it was enough to secure an eighth-consecutive semi-final appearance. Here’s how the players rated:
Keylor Navas 6.5: He may have made a mistake that led to Juve’s all-important third goal, but throughout the night the Costa Rican did make a few important contributions, making point-blank saves from Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain. Failing to collect Douglas Costa’s cross will haunt him for a few days, but that it didn’t play a part in Real’s elimination should spare him the shame.
Dani Carvajal 7.5: One of Carvajal’s better peformances in recent weeks. Juve bombarded the wings but while they found much joy on the left-hand side of Madrid’s defence, they failed to replicate that on the opposite flank. Carvajal had ounces of energy in a game which called out for it, and he was one of the more reliable performers out there tonight, completing 91% of his passes as well as 3 dribbling attempts.
Raphael Varane 7: Struggled with the Bianconeri’s crosses, as did the rest of his teammates in defence, and clearly missed having the influential Sergio Ramos alongside him. A lack of protection in front of him, due to Casemiro’s half-time sub, and on the wings is no fault of his though, and he shouldn’t shoulder much blame for Madrid’s collapse. Won 6 aerial duels throughout the contest.
Jesus Vallejo 6: Unfair to blame him for Mandzukic’ dominance in the air, as he was often coming up against the shorter Carvajal. Struggled for the majority of the game, and found himself out of position on more than one occassion, also failing to win a single contest in the air. Looked slightly better in the second half, but Ramos can’t return soon enough.
Marcelo 6: A very poor outing for Marcelo, whose defensive shortcomings made him an easy target for Juve. Max Allegri didn’t conduct some sort of masterplan for this one, he simply realised that the left-hand sided of Real’s defence would struggle for protection and reliability. Marcelo was constantly dragged inside by the left-footed Douglas Costa, which offered the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner room to roam for the overlap. It isn’t a coincidence that all three Juve goals came from that side. Offensively, he added bite and urgency when Madrid decided to push forward in the latter stages.
Casemiro 6: Hooked at half-time to make way for Zidane’s favoured 4-4-2 formation, Casemiro’s night ended earlier than he would have expected . At fault for the first goal, and non-existant in Real’s build-up play afterwards, it’s probably not that much of a surprise. The problem is that Juve exposed the lack of a ball-winning midfielder in the second-half, and that could have easily cost Real. Fortunately, it didn’t.
Luka Modric 7.5: Probably wouldn’t have expected to have been subbed in the 75th minute as Real went in search of the winner, but he tired early in the second half with his fellow midfielders looking more energised. Played well during the opening 45, where he advanced the play well, and even found himself quite far forward at times. Dictated the play on the right-hand side of a diamond midfield, covering well for Carvajal anytime the full-back ventured forward.
Toni Kroos 9: Another solid, if not spectacular, display from arguably the best midfielder in the world at the moment. There’s a reason Juve sat off him when in possession, opting to cover his passing options instead of the midfield maestro himself. Kroos was exception at spreading the play, and finding the open man, usually Isco or Bale, in the final third. His role decreased somewhat in the second-half, as he was instructed tot ake on more of a defensive responsibility, yet he still managed to dink a sublime chip in to Ronaldo which eventually led to the winning penalty kick. Completed 97 of his 100 pass attempts.
Isco 8: Was lively throughout the contest, even finding the back of the net at one stage though it was disallowed for offside. Forced a save from Gigi Buffon shortly afterwards, and constantly found himself operating in the space between the Kroos/Modric & Ronaldo/Bale tandems. Juve struggled to deal with his trickery, as the Spaniard once again proved why he needs to start in these games.
Cristiano Ronaldo 8.5: Must have found it difficult with the lack of service, but never lost focus and that was obvious with his contributions in the final few minutes. His gallopping header over Alex Sandro led to the ball dropping for Lucas Vasquez, who was impeded by Medhi Benatia with the referee pointing to the spot. Up stepped Ronaldo, as confident as ever despite Juve’s best efforts to distract him, to slot home one of the biggest penalties he’ll ever take. Harried and hassled the opposition back-four throughout the night, for which he received several lumps and bruises. Rallied the crowd in nervy situations and on a night when their captain was sitting in the stands, Cristiano looked every part the leader that Real desperately needed.
Gareth Bale 6: Despite receiving a big nod from his manager in garnering a start, Bale failed to impress. Had a half-chance shortly after Juve scored their first, but was anonymous for pretty much the rest of the half. Subbed off during the team talk.
Marco Asensio 6.5: Didn’t offer too much going forward, tried his best to work hard in tracking Juve’s full-backs. All in all, a quiet second-half performance from Asensio. Lately it seems that anytime he picks the ball up, he looks as if he’s prepared to go on a darting run only to pass it off to a teammate nearby. Could be a sign of low confidence, or perhaps it’s an instruction to immediately pass, and then run to offer an option.
Lucas Vasquez 7.5: Mightily satisfied with Vasquez’s short but sweet appearance. Came on at half-time and offered an abundance of energy, both offensively and defensively. Got in the face of Alex Sandro and Mandzukic when called upon, making it a more uncomfortable half than both would have experienced in the opening period. As the match was heading into a very tense extra-time, Vasquez sneaked into the penalty area to finish off a Ronaldo knock-down only to be fouled by a panicking Benatia. The ref gave the PK, and the rest is history.
Mateo Kovacic n/a