Champions League review: Ronaldo to the rescue for Juve

Cristiano-Ronaldo

Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo, left, celebrates after scoring his side's third goal. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Here’s what happened on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League, in case you missed it…

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Juventus 3, Atletico Madrid 0: Game story || Game stats
Manchester City 7, Schalke 0: Game story || Game stats

THE MAIN STORY

Juve scales biggest mountain of them all
The city of Turin lies in the imposing shadows of the Italian Alps and Superga Hill. But it was another mountain with treacherous terrain that Juventus majestically scaled on Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions League.

A 2-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their round of 16 series in Spain meant the Bianconeri had it all to do in the return match. Not only did they have to score three goals, but they also couldn’t concede – and they had to do it against a side boasting the best defence in all of Europe. What’s more, history was working against the Italians, as they had never previously progressed to the next round in the knockout stages in UEFA competition after losing the first leg by two goals.

But don’t tell Cristiano Ronaldo about history, because the Portuguese superstar simply rewrites it. On a night when Juve needed him to bag a hat trick, that’s exactly what he did – scoring twice on headers off sublime crosses into the box, and then beating Jan Oblak, one of the game’s best goalkeepers, from the penalty spot late in the game.

Last April, Ronaldo received a standing ovation from Juventus fans for carrying Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over their own side in Turin. Eleven months later, those same fans applauded Ronaldo off the pitching following another three-goal performance, this time against Madrid’s other team.

This was exactly why Juventus splashed the cash they did on Ronaldo last summer when he was 33. For nights like this. Ronaldo, now 34, was seen as the final piece of the puzzle for Juventus, the one player they needed to put them over the top and contend for the European Cup. On Tuesday, he showed why it was money well spent.

BEST GOAL

In the 23rd minute, Federico Bernardeschi delivered a dangerous cross to the back post from outside the box. Cristiano Ronaldo did brilliantly to out-jump his defensive marker and scored on a header past Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

BEST MOMENT

Sergio Aguero opened the scoring in the 35th minute for Manchester City, stepping up to the spot and scoring on a cheeky “Panenka” penalty kick that completely handcuffed Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann.

BURNING QUESTION

BEST TWEET

THE GAME WITHIN THE GAME

With a passing success rate like that from Manchester City, it’s little wonder Schalke was chasing shadows all night.

SIX PACK OF STATS

• Giorgio Chiellini is only the fifth player to make 500 appearances for Juventus in all competitions (Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon, Gaetano Scirea and Giuseppe Furino)

• Pep Guardiola has won all six of his home games in the Champions League against German opponents as a manager.

• Cristiano Ronaldo has scored eight Champions League hat tricks, the joint-most in the competition with Lionel Messi.

• There will be at least three English teams in the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

• Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 25 goals in 33 career appearances against Atletico Madrid. He’s only scored more often against Sevilla (27).

• Schalke’s 7-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City is the biggest loss of a German side in Champions League history.

Stats courtesy of Opta

THREE STARS

1) Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus: Nothing more has to be said.

2) Leroy Sane, Manchester City: Had a goal and a trio of assists in Man City’s romp over Schalke.

3) Federico Bernardeschi, Juventus: An unheralded hero in the Italians’ attack, he set up Ronaldo’s opening goal.

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