It was built up to be the most important night of the season for Juventus. Diego Simeone’s dogged Atletico Madrid were visiting. One of the greatest defenses in Europe were coming with a two-goal lead and they would put their lives on the line to protect it. Juventus were facing the prospect of scoring three-goals against Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez, Jan Oblak and co,.
It was an uphill task, almost impossible for any other team to achieve. Jan Oblak, in his time at Atletico Madrid has conceded less number of goals than the total number of clean sheets. A staggering, staggering fact. But Juventus had an ace who loved playing against Atletico Madrid, who loved scoring against Godin and Gimenez.
Cristiano loves playing against Atleti. He had scored 22 goals in 32 games against his former City rivals before tonight. And if Juventus were to have any chance of going through to the next round, Ronaldo had to add to that tally.
The game started with Juventus showing great desire and purpose, hunting down last causes and making sure they got into the faces of their opponents, making their presence felt. In the 4th minute, when Giorgio Chiellini, the birthday boy, turned the ball into the back of the net from close range, the stadium erupted with joy. But the referee called a foul on the goalkeeper Jan Oblak. The foul was conceded by, as fate would have it, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The hero who arrived in Turin amid much fanfare had turned villain to chalk off their first goal. It was the kind of moment which could have punched the sting out of Juventus, but stye did not let that happen. In the 27th minute, Federico Bernardeschi glided past Atletico players to put in a teasing cross. Ronaldo lost his marker, Juanfran, and connected with a towering header past the hapless Jan Oblak.
Suddenly, the 4th minute incident seemed inconsequential. It also seemed like a game made for Ronaldo and he wanted to make sure that he was the centre of attention. Ronaldo erupted in joy along with the Juventus faithful but he knew that the job was not done yet. And he made sure that he would get the job done himself.
Juventus dominated Atletico Madrid in possession, in duels and in the air. There came. A point in the game after which Atletico Madrid simply stopped crossing, because they knew Bonucci and Chiellini would head everything away. What made it worse was the fact that there was always a Juventus player challenging for the cleared ball. Also, the pressure applied by Emre Can and Miralem Pjanic made it impossible for Godin and Gimenez the pass the ball out of defense. They kept giving the ball straight to Juventus, making it a one way traffic all game.
So when the second goal came, it was not at all surprising. Usually, Atletico frustrate their opponents and manage to keep a clean sheet to see games out. But this time, Juventus were constantly knocking on the door and Atletico were barely hanging on. So when Ronaldo rose highest to guide the Joao Cancelo’s deflected cross goal-wards, the collective Juventus fans let out a sigh.
When Jan Oblak palmed the ball away, the sigh was a sigh of disappointment. A few seconds later, the referee pointed to the kick-off spot and Ronaldo ran straight towards the fans. The ball had gone in, by a matter of millimeters, and Juventus had completed the comeback. Mission Impossible was made a light work of. Ronaldo had decimated the visitors with ruthless conviction.
But it was not over yet. Thanks to a beautiful and purposeful Federico Bernardeschi run, Juventus earned a penalty with Angel Correa clipping the former Fiorentina man. Up stepped Ronaldo, calm as you like, as he blasted the penalty into the corner and finished Atletico Madrid off with a knockout punch. He complemented the goal with his typical “Keep calm, I’m here” celebration. Cocky yet talented.
Thus ended the story which will be told by fans witnessing the game to their kids for years to come. There once was a guy named Ronaldo, who constantly did the impossible. In one duel with the meanest defense, he massacred the visitors single-handedly to slay the beast and springboard their team to Champions league glory!