Football

Juventus through to Champions League final

Juventus beat Real Madrid over two legs to reach Champions League final. Image: www.juventus.com

Juventus beat Real Madrid over two legs to reach Champions League final. Image: http://www.juventus.com

Juventus are back at the big table once again.

The Old Lady from Turin will face Barcelona  in the Champions League Final after a 1-1 draw last night at the Bernabeu saw them go through 3-2 on aggregate.

Real Madrid’s front three of Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Christiano Ronaldo cost in excess of £250m, but it was an old boy from their own ranks, costing them nothing,  who put paid to their chances of retaining the Champions League trophy they won so thrillingly in 2014.

Madrid born Alvaro Morata joined Real as a 16-year old.

With expensive recruits coming into the team every season, Morata had to leave the club he loved to pursue his career.

The £20m fee from Juventus was paid back over two semi final games here.

His goal last night added to his contribution in the first leg that saw Juventus arrive in Madrid last night with a slender one goal advantage.

The Italian team had to come from behind.

Half way through the first half  James Rodriguez went down underneath clumsy  challenges from Claudio Marchisio and Giorgio Chiellini.

Ronaldo scored from the spot.

At this point Madrid were ahead on the away goals rule, but were threatening Juve’s goal enough to score another and make the game completely safe – Benzema went very close.

Isco and Ronaldo hit the side netting.

Gianluigi Buffon, bidding to reach his first final, was by far the busier keeper.

Midway through the second half, the decisive moment.

A needless foul given away by Sergio Ramos gave Juventus a free kick on the right hand side.

Partially cleared by a punch from Iker Casillas, the ball was returned immediately.

Paul Pogba beat Ramos to the header.

The ball fell near the penalty spot where Morata connected with a downward shot that bounced up in front of Casillas, and cannoned off his gloves into the net.

Juventus were back ahead.

The tie might have been safe moments later.

Casillas’ smart save denied Marchisio one on one.

Now Madrid surged forward; two chances for Gareth Bale who was quiet again; James Rodriguez just failing to connect with a cross.

Through all of this, Madrid should have been given a second penalty, as the otherwise excellent Patrice Evra cleverly bundled over substitute Javier Hernandez – needless to add it was right in front of the goal line official – but got away with it.

The wonderfully drilled Juventus defence held firm.

A team ethic triumphant over more sparkling individual skills.

The remarkable statistic that says no team has managed to defend their Champions League title remains intact.

UEFA might also breathe a sigh of relief this morning;  a glorified La Liga game – albeit El Clasico –  in the final has been avoided.

Ten years after they were relegated to Serie B, Juventus are back at the top table, and are heading for Berlin, where surely the ultimate test awaits.

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