Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 4th 2017 Contents sports A53
Thursday, May 4, 2017 guardian.co.tt
at the right time
MADRID---All that rest has paid off for Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Real Madrid forward has been pacing himself, skipping games that he
would have normally played in previous years, and is peaking at just the right
On Tuesday, he scored a hat trick for the second straight game in the
Champions League, leading Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid
that virtually put the defending champions back in the final. Madrid will
advance even with a two-goal loss in next week's second leg at Vicente
"I feel very good," Ronaldo said yesterday. "I've prepared myself to be in
great shape in the final stages of the Spanish league and the Champions
League. You also need to have a bit of luck as well, because I prepared myself
and things have been going well, for me and for the team."
"It's important for him to rest from time to time and he knows that,"
Zidane said. "I don't know whether it's all down to him being rested. He's got
goals in him, he is unique."
Ronaldo has scored eight goals in the last three Champions League games.
He also netted a hat trick in the second leg of the quarterfinals against
Bayern, in addition to the two goals he scored in the first leg in
"The goals come naturally," Ronaldo said. "I ended up scoring
the goals, but the team did a tremendous job."
"Cristiano always exceeds expectations," Madrid midfielder
Marco Asensio said. "The fans need to thank him because he
always comes through in the important games."
With his goals on Tuesday, Ronaldo increased his total to 400
with Madrid, by far the most of any player in the club's history. He
the milestone in 389 matches. Raul Gonzalez,
Madrid's second-best scorer, had 323 goals in
"It's something special," Ronaldo said.
"It's a huge amount of goals. I didn't expect
this. I'm very happy and I want to keep
giving my best and to help the club win
Tuesday's goals at the Santiago
Bernabeu Stadium also left him within
one of this season's scoring leader in the
Champions League, Lionel Messi, who scored
11 with Barcelona before the Catalan club was
eliminated by Juventus in the quarterfinals.
Each player has been the Champions
League scoring leader five times in
Ronaldo had scored only two
goals in his first eight games
in the European competition.
It had been an up-and-down
season for Ronaldo, who has
35 goals so far. He finished
with more than 50 in each
of the last six seasons with
The hat trick on
Tuesday was his
seventh in the
leaving him with
103 goals in the
competition. He is
the only player
Juve wins 2-0 on
Gonzalo Higuain scored two
opportunist goals and veter-
an goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon
made some crucial saves as Ju-
ventus won 2-0 at Monaco to
take a commanding lead from
the first leg of their Champions
League semifinal yesterday.
Monaco had scored 146 goals
before this game, including three
times home and away in the pre-
vious two knockout rounds. But
Juventus gave a masterclass in
how to withstand pressure and
then punish on the counter attack,
with both of Higuain's goals com-
ing after good Monaco spells.
Higuain pounced in the 29th
minute, side-footing home af-
ter Dani Alves had latched onto
his pass down the right before
back-heeling the ball back to the
Argentina striker as he sprinted
into the area.
Higuain hadn't scored against
Barcelona in the round of 16, lead-
ing some to question his 90 mil-
lion euros ($98 million) transfer
from Napoli --- an Italian record.
This goal clearly meant a lot as
he bounded over the advertising
boards to emphatically milk the
applause from the traveling fans.
The Juventus bench rose as one
after Higuain slid in to turn home
a deep cross in the 59th, with the
irrepressible Alves again the pro-
Before this game, Higuain had
only scored two goals in 24 games
in the knockout stages of the com-
petition. A strangely poor return
for such a prolific striker.
Prior to his opener, Monaco's
18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe
had forced two smart saves from
the 39-year-old Buffon on his
100th Champions League appear-
ance for the club.
Then, moments after the restart,
Buffon showed great composure
to read Radamel Falcao's shot and
smother it, rather than committing
too early and giving Monaco's top
scorer an opening to wrong-foot
Buffon saved his best for the
last minute, showing remarkable
athleticism to tip over substitute
Valere Germain's point-blank
No wonder centre-half Giorgio
Chiellini rushed over to hug him at
the final whistle.
The winner plays either Real
Madrid or city rival Atletico, with
Real heading into the return leg at
Atletico 3-0 up thanks to Cristiano
Ronaldo's hat trick on Tuesday.
This match was less one-sided,
but Monaco's vaunted attack was
blunted by a rock-solid defense
that has now conceded only two
goals in 11 Champions League
The sheer speed of Juventus' ap-
proach play took Monaco by sur-
prise, prompting coach Leonardo
Jardim to frantically gesticulate to
his players early to close down their
opponents higher up the pitch.
Forward Paulo Dybala's ability
to roam between the lines baf-
fled Monaco, opening up space
for Alves. Playing as a marauding
right winger, the former Barcelona
star almost set Higuain up in the
As Monaco kept the pressure on,
centre-half Leonardo Bonucci in-
tervened the rough way, hacking
down Falcao near the halfway line
and getting a yellow card.
The first goal came just moments
after Glik went down holding his
face, urging his teammates to kick
the ball out despite a promising at-
tack building down the left.
It took the momentum away
and moments later Glik was no
longer rubbing his sore face, but
panting for breath as he chased
the galloping Alves down the right.
Alves turns 34 on Saturday but he
still has pace to burn and left Glik
Monaco tore into Juventus af-
ter the break, but couldn't get past
Buffon, who dived at the feet of
Mbappe minutes after his save
It was a brutal lesson for a young
Monaco team rich that is on flair,
but was found out by two-time
champion Juventus, which lost
the 2015 final to Barcelona.
Monaco found little joy through
the middle and so opted for speed
down the flanks. But the wily Ju-
ventus defense often had every
angle covered, and Buffon was
there when they didn't.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates
scoring his side's third goal during their
Champions League semifinal first leg
against Atletico Madrid at the Santiago
Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, on
Tuesday. AP PHOTO
n CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain celebrates after scoring during their Champions League semifinal first leg match
against Monaco at the Louis II stadium in Monaco, yesterday. AP PHOTO
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