Real Madrid win Champions League as Cristiano Ronaldo double defeats Juve

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Real Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff to retain their Champions League title and earn a 12 th European crown with two aims from Cristiano Ronaldo as well as Casemiro and Marco Asensio strikes

It aimed, as it so often does, with that familiar smile. Cristiano Ronaldo gelled mane, amazing teeth, magical in his boots will never forget the nighttime he scored the 600 th goal of an nearly implausible career.

It was the moment everyone knew the Champions League trophy was on its way back to the Bernabu and, is again, that the four-times Ballon dOr winner had left his imprint on another final.

Ronaldo had scored twice on another exultant nighttime when he also leapfrogged Lionel Messi to announce himself as the rivalries contributing scorer for the fifth season running. He will enjoy that, too, but the real trophy here was to be part of a side that have now lifted European footballs most coveted silverware three times in four seasons. Cardiff 2017 will fit neatly with Milan 2016 and Lisbon 2014 whereas, for Juventus, this was a familiar story of sadnes and hurt.

This was their seventh defeat out of nine finals, including five in a row, and the second half was a chastening experience for the Serie A champions, culminating in them sieving more aims in one match than in the rest of the competition put together. It was a full-on breakdown and, by the end, the players in black and white stripes looked in need of smelling salts.

It was surely rare to see a Juventus team “losing ones” route so badly bearing in mind “its been” 1-1 at the transgres and, if anything, Massimiliano Allegris players had looked the more rounded side. Yet the second half was a frightful ordeal for the team from Turin and all those advocates who had hold back thousands of black and white cards before kick-off to spell: The Time is Now. Yes, Juve were unfortunate, in the extreme, with the deflected goal from Casemiro that dedicated Madrid a 2-1 lead-in just after the hour. From that phase onwards, nonetheless, “its been” staggering to realise a team renowned for defensive structure crumple this way.

Juves indignities in that interval also featured a sending-off for Juan Cuadrado, one of their substitutes, and a late goal from Marco Asensio when hundreds of thousands of Madridistas is currently being going through their succes ballads. Gareth Bale, deemed too short of fitness to start, had joined the working party by that stage and no one from Zinedine Zidanes team should really care that video games outstanding instant was conjured up by one of the losing players.

Cristiano
Cristiano Ronaldo scores his second and Real Madrids third goal. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

Mario Mandzukics goal was the contradiction of the nighttime. Indeed, has still ever been a better goal in a European final? Zidane himself is on the all-time listing for his spearing volley against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park in 2002. Yet it is a legitimate debate and Mandzukics 27 th-minute attempt here might even rim it given that it involved the ball going between four different players without touching the floor.

Leonardo Bonucci was first with a long, diagonal pass out to Alex Sandro on the left and, after that, it was a blur of exhilarating accelerate, colouring and movement. Sandros cross to pick out Gonzalo Higuan was a charm: a cushioned, left-footed volley on the run. Higuan controlled the ball on his chest and flicked it towards Mandzukic. And then, eventually, it was the big men turn, teeing himself up and then twisting his body to launch himself at the ball. Volley, chest-volley, chest-volley: five touchings in total, mid-air; left, right, left and right again. It was like something from a computer game and, at the end of it, Mandzukics improvisational shot was dipping and swerving into the top corner of Keylor Navass goal.

Ultimately, though, the more prosaic aims carried “the worlds largest” meaning in this race. Madrid have managed only one clean sheet on their route to winning this competition. Yet there is another statistic about Zidanes team and the musician, more than anyone, who carries the teams daydreams. They arrived in Cardiff with the best aims record of any side in the competition 32 from 12 ties and Ronaldo, being Ronaldo, rarely lets a big game pass him by without constructing some kind of contribution.

To begin with, he had discovered it difficult to get too much of the ball in and all over the Juve penalty area. But he also had intervals in the other finals when he drifted to the edges. Then this one reached its 20 th minute and he came alive, exchanging passes with the overlapping Dani Carvajal before drawing back his right boot to take aim. His shot was low, directed towards the bottom corner, and skimmed off Bonucci to evade Gianluigi Buffon.

If we were to be kind about the losing side, Madrids first two aims both came from deflections and, in Casemiros case, the trajectory of his shot totally changed once the ball had struck Sami Khedira. The truth, nonetheless, is that Juve, having acknowledged only three goals en route to this final, choice a bad nighttime to lose their defensive organisation and never recovered from that moment.

Three minutes later, Luka Modric scampered down the right, clipped a cross to the near post and Ronaldos clipped finish dedicated the remainder of the match an air of inevitability. The people who always criticise Cristiano are going to have thrown their guitar back in its case, he said afterwards, modest as ever.

There was still time for Sergio Ramos, as devious as a container of weasels, to aid technologist Cuadrados second yellow card with a bout of pretend agony but Madrids second-half performance had a lot more good than bad. Marcelo set up Asensio to sweep in their fourth goal in the last minute and Zidane joined Brian Clough, Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola and Jos Mourinho among others on the listing of managers who have won the European Cup twice.

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