Real Madrid and Bayern Munich joined Liverpool and Roma in the semi finals of the UCL after overcoming the challenges of Juventus and Sevilla respectively.
Zinedine Zidane’s wards were abysmal on the night but were saved by talisman Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-minute contentious but clear-cut penalty kick as they suffered a shock 1-3 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Juventus, looking to emulate Roma’s gladiator-style comeback against another Spanish powerhouse, Barcelona, went ahead two minutes into the game through fit-again Mario Mandzukic. Douglas Costa broke free in midfield and fed Sami Khedira, the former Real Madrid man clipping a cross which Croatian targetman, Mandzukic, nodded in at the far post.
Gareth Bale, making his first start of the knock out rounds stung the palms of Buffon after good interchange between Modric and Ronaldo, and the Welshman’s backheeled follow-up hit the side netting. Isco had the ball in the net but was offside when Ronaldo’s shot was saved by Buffon, while Mandzukic nearly bundled in from a corner kick as both sides looked to attack.
Los Galacticos were happy to drop the tempo of the game but Juve went close through Khedira, while Marcelo and Isco went close. The defending Champions’ went close through Isco but Juventus went further ahead on 37 minutes. The Old Lady of Turin were given another crossing opportunity through Leitchsteiner for Mandzukic and he obliged with his fourth goal in six games to make it 2-0 on the night. Raphael Varane hit the crossbar from a Kroos free kick in first half added time but the scoreline stayed the same with Juve needing one more goal to force extra time.
The ineffectual Bale and Casemiro were hauled off at half time for Asensio and Vasquez as Madrid looked to kill any thoughts of a Juve comeback.
Juventus equalized on aggregate, punishing one of consecutive errors by Madrid’s backline. Oft-reliable but error-prone keeper Keylor Navas spilled a routine cross delivered from the dreadful Marcelo’s wing and Matuidi was on hand to bundle into an empty net to cancel Real’s advantage and reset the tie.
Juventus went on the counter and forced young defender Jesus Vallejo, who was having a baptism of fire on his first Champions League start, to block a certain Khedira shot from another cross. Buffon saved a defected Isco shot and from the resulting corner, Varane shot just wide on the turn.
Real Madrid were in the ascendancy and Ronaldo headed wide at the back post five minutes from time. Juventus were looking to take the game into extra time and possibly penalties, but Ronaldo and Real flipped the script with a dramatic moment in the last minute of stoppage time. The ever-willimg Ronaldo nodded a deep cross down at the far post for Vazquez in the centre, but the substitute was hacked down by Benatia from behind as he steadied to shoot, earning a penalty kick amid protests which led to Buffon’s dismissal by referee Michael Oliver. Cristiano Ronaldo expertly dispatched the matchwinning kick to the top right hand corner for his 15th goal of the competition and continued his record of scoring in every game of this season’s competition as the defending Champions booked their place in the last four.
In the second game of the night, Bayern Munich also booked their place in the last four despite a drab 0-0 draw, to end Sevilla’s unlikely Champions League dream. Sevilla looked dangerous all night and, as usual, missed good chances to put their German opponents on the back foot. Robben, Ribery, Muller and Lewandowski all went close to giving the Bavarians the win but it did not matter, as Jupp Heynckes’ side put themselves in the hat for the semi final draw taking place on Friday afternoon.
Bayern München (2) 0-0 (1) Sevilla (2-1 aggregate score; Bayern advance)
Real Madrid (3) 1-3 (0) Juventus (4-3 aggregate; Real advance)