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Ronaldo thwarts epic Juventus comeback to lead Real Madrid into CL semis

IANS  |  Madrid 

forward Cristiano converted a controversially-awarded penalty in time here to quell Juventus' stunning comeback as the defending champions lost 1-3 in the second leg but won the quarter-final tie 4-3 on aggregate.

The joy of the faithful at the Santiago Bernabeu was mixed with relief after seeing the hosts blow a 3-0 advantage from the first leg on Wednesday, reports

Juventus' defender appeared to have touched ball as was brought down inside the box and the pointed to the spot. An enraged Juventus protested the decision of the referee, earning a red card.

The crowd at the Bernabeu stadium, perhaps remembering the ovation Juventus fans gave after his spectacular bicycle kick goal in the first leg, cheered the Italian veteran as he walked off the pitch.

With substitute keeper on the goal line, sent a blast into the top corner to win the tie for with his 15th goal of the current campaign.

At the beginning of the second leg, virtually nobody thought Juventus had a chance of overcoming that deficit against a Real Madrid side in pursuit of their third consecutive crown.

But Juventus, inspired by AS Roma's giant-killing performance on Tuesday to eliminate from the competition, were determined not to go quietly.

Unsettled on the backline due to the absence of the suspended Sergio Ramos, the Blancos conceded a goal in the second minute when Croatian forward fired home on a cross from

The visitors would have a second three minutes later if hadn't wasted a golden opportunity in front of the net, much as he did in last season's between the same two clubs.

Real Madrid regrouped and began to get chances, but 40-year-old keeper stopped efforts by Isco Alarcon -- twice -- and

Just as the Blancos began to feel more comfortable, Mandzukic struck again, beating keeper with a header to bring Juventus within one goal on aggregate.

The closest Real Madrid came to scoring in the first half was a shot in the final seconds by that hit the cross-bar.

started the second half with a double-substitution, replacing Bale with and opting for over Casemiro.

While the changes resulted in more possession for the hosts, the Bernabeu remained on edge and the apprehension was borne out at the hour mark, as a Navas blunder set up to level the aggregate score at 3-3.

The home side continued to struggle on offense and when they did breach the Bianconeri wall, Buffon was always there to dispel the danger, making an outstanding stop against Ronaldo.

The match looked destined for extra time until the referee's penalty decision. The entire Juventus squad argued with the referee, feeling let down by a dubious decision.

Ronaldo set another new record, becoming the first to score in 11 straight Champions League matches.

"I am happy and we are in the semi-finals. For the penalty, my heart was beating hard, but I tried to stay calm. I knew it would be a decisive penalty, thank God I scored and we went through," Ronaldo told Real Madrid's website.

bemoaned the absence of (VAR) which could have given the right decision.

"There was no VAR tonight. We've lost -- there's not much more to add. The penalty tonight was a similar incident to the one involving [Juan] Cuadrado in the first leg. There was a lot of confusion," he was quoted as saying by Juventus' website.

"We're left with a bitter taste after coming within reach of extra time and being able to really go for it. I would have had two substitutes to work with -- I'd held those back to change the game. That said, over the course of the two legs, I think both teams deserved to go through."

--IANS

pur/mr

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 12 2018. 16:38 IST
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