Alvaro Morata and a Carlos Tevez penalty saw Juventus beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the Champions League semi-final. The second leg is at the Bernabeu next Wednesday and the Bianconeri can qualify even with a draw. This was the Bianconeria s first Champions League semi-final since 2003, when they eliminated Real Madrid 4-3 on aggregate.
On an evening laced with sub-plots, A?lvaro Morata, the Madrid-born, former Real striker, who played as a substitute in the Spanish cluba s Champions League final victory over Atl tico last season, had opened the scoring. He refused to celebrate. Madrida s equaliser, inevitably, came from Cristiano Ronaldo, a close-range header, which was his 54th goal of the season. It also put him clear of Lionel Messi on the all-time Champions League scoring chart with 76. Sergio Ramos laboured in defensive midfield while Gareth Bale, having just returned from a calf injury, was peripheral. It was a hugely enjoyable game, and Juventus deserved their advantage purely because of their energy and spirit of adventure, which was epitomised by Tevez. After a Kroos corner was cleared and Marceloa s shot was blocked, Juventus broke with two-on-two. It was remarkable to see the champions so exposed. Marcelo cynically took out Morata yet Tevez scuttled on and Carvajal abjectly failed to check him. Worse, he was deceived by a burst of pace from Tevez and sent him sprawling. The only surprise after the penalty award was that Carvajal was not booked. Allegri switched to five at the back after 64 minutes and there were one or two nervous moments for his team. Yet the full-time whistle brought a surge of excitement.
Max Allegri was still not entirely content after Juventus beat Real Madrid, but praised their a intensity.a
a I am very happy with what the lads did. This is the right reward that they deserved, as ita s not easy to reach the Champions League semi-final and especially to play against Real Madrid,a the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
a We played with great intensity and allowed Real Madrid very little, but coulda ve done better in the pace of creating our play in the first half. Ita s a shame, as we coulda ve done better with the Llorente chance, but Ia d have been happy beforehand to get a win over Real Madrid. Now we can prepare for a week and can fight it out in Madrid.a
Allegri started out with 4-3-1-2, but then moved to 3-5-2 with Andrea Barzagli coming off the bench. Which system will he use at the Bernabeu was a question posed to him.a Youa re asking too much! The game just ended! I think tonight the lads defended very well with four, though it was not easy to leave Andrea out. I had to make a choice and he did great coming off the bench. With Bonucci booked, I had to take fewer risks and have another defender near him.a
The real surprise was picking Stefano Sturaro rather than Roberto Pereyra, a player who only had four minutes of Champions League experience before this. a I made this choice because, Pereyra can change the game off the bench and Sturaro was in good shape. I needed someone with legs to help the defence. The lads did very well to defend with four in midfield and then to take turns blocking Sergio Ramos. The players know I am very demanding on control and the passage of play, so I feel we coulda ve done better in the first half to pass it around quickly and get the ball between the Real Madrid midfielders. That doesna t take away from the fact they did very well and I am very happy with what they are doing. We started the Champions League in a certain way and ita s different to Serie A, we need to face these games with more calm and maturity. Ita s practically impossible to press a team for 90 minutes and they can score in 10. Ita s important to read the game, know when ita s time to slow down, time to step up the pace and change gear. The team has definitely improved on that.a