Following Juventus’s scarcely believable comeback against Diego Simeone’s Atletico side, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the key talking points.
#5 Dybala benched
Coming into the biggest night of their season – the team news from Max Allegri’s side delivered something of a shocker. Largely ineffective in the first leg and having failed to combine effectively with Ronaldo and Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala was benched for Juventus’s season decider against Atletico Madrid. While no official explanation was offered, news of the Argentine’s exclusion from the start still came as something of a surprise to fans and pundits alike – although he did make his way on to the pitch in the second half to see the game out for the Italians.
#4 Early Chiellini goal ruled out
Looking to get an early goal to kick-start their revival, Juventus had almost the perfect start in the 3rd minute, scoring what they thought was the opener via the game’s first corner. Oblak’s spill from the resultant set-piece was picked up by Chiellini who sent it home first-time. The goal was ruled out by the referee, however, for an apparent foul on Jan Oblak by Cristiano Ronaldo in the build-up – eventually leading to a VAR intervention which upheld the referee’s decision, denying the Old Lady the start they so craved.
#3 Majestic Ronaldo brings Juventus back from the dead
Despite seeing his side fail so dismally in Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo’s spoke about being ‘positive’ in his pre-match interview, as well as on the importance of believing come what may. Indeed, footage of the tunnel in Turin at the start of the game shows the Portugese more animated and upbeat than ever before, spurring his team-mates to go for it. No doubt the 5 time European winner stayed true to his words, scoring in the 27th minute with a splendid header to breathe life back into his team, before levelling the tie 2-2 on aggregate after the restart with another super header, awarded via goal-line technology – setting up a blockbuster final 40 minutes.
#2 Atletico’s disastrous performance
Having overseen a brilliant 2-0 victory over the Italians in Madrid, Diego Simeone would have been confident of a shut-out this time around to seal his team’s place in the next round. What it turned into instead was a rude awakening for the Argentine – a helpless witness to one of the worst displays by his team in Europe in recent memory. The Spaniards were almost non-existent in the game at times, having 0 shots on target and only 37 percent of possession. With seemingly no intention to force matters and score goals, they were content with sitting back and soaking up the pressure – complacent in the knowledge that they had a two goal cushion over their heads.
#1 Ronaldo hat-trick seals comeback
Seemingly set to go into extra-time, the tie had a late twist in it – Bernadeschi cutting in from the left and beating his man before being brought down by Atletico substitute Arias inside the area, giving Cristiano Ronaldo the opportunity to seal another epic comeback. Cool as ever, the Portugese made no mistake, sending Oblak the wrong way and sealing his hat-trick along with his side’s progression to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.