Newly-crowned Serie A Champions Juventus kept its fans celebrating after beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals. Former Madrid striker Alvaro Morata opened up the scoring, and after Cristiano Ronaldo tied it up, Carlos Tevez scored the winning goal from the penalty spot.
Madrid’s only comfort is that they got a very important away goal that could end up being the decider after the second leg next week.
Two very evenly matched sides met in Turin on Tuesday. The possession numbers ended up just a little bit in Real’s favor (52 percent) and shots were nine a piece. But on the scoreboard it read 2-1 after 90 minutes and it’s a big victory for Juventus over the defending champions.
Juve secured its fourth straight Serie A title over the weekend and is the undisputed king of Italian soccer once more after being segregated and stripped of two league titles after the “Calciopoli” scandal back in 2006. But all that is in the past and the team is back in the Champions League semifinals for the first time since 2003.
Madrid is making its fifth straight appearance in the semifinals, but they are still trying to catch up to Barcelona in the league.
Morata, who played in the final last year for Real, opened up the scoring in the ninth minute when he capitalized on a rebound from Madrid goalie Iker Casillas. Mortal and Tevez has been a successful pairing for Juve up top and they caused a lot of trouble for the Madrid back four.
Real were without both starting striker Karim Benzema and creative midfielder Luca Modric, as both players are out injured. Sergio Ramos took Modric’s place in midfield, but he’s much better suited as a central defender. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale played up top, but Bale moved over to the left flank after Javier Hernandez was subbed in for Isco.
Ronaldo tied it up at 1-1 in the 27th minute after a nice cross inside the penalty box from James Rodriguez that allowed Ronaldo to head it home from close range. Rodriguez also had a shot off the post before the end of the first half, but the 1-1 scoreline remained until the 58th minute when Tevez scored the winning goal from the penalty spot.
Tevez was brought down inside the area by Daniel Carvajal after Tevez went on a partial breakaway. Arturo Vidal kept nagging the referee about giving Carvajal a yellow card that he himself ended up going into the referee’s book.
Tevez was cool as ice from the spot, and Casillas had no chance of saving the shot. After the goal, Juventus did what Italian sides are so well-known for, which is protect a lead and “park the bus” and try to hit the opposing team on the counter attack.
Real took over a lot of the possession in the closing stages of the game, but were unable to cut through the Juventus defense and create any real goalscoring opportunities.
Madrid can take some comfort in the fact that they scored an away goal, so all they need now is to beat Juventus 1-0 at home to advance to the final. Real is looking to become the first back-to-back champions of the tournament since the creation of the Champions League. AC Milan won in 1989 and 1990 under the old format when the tournament was called the European Champions Club Cup.
The return leg is on May 13 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.