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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Real Madrid are back in Champions League final

Real Madrid has a piece of Karim Benzema brilliance to thank for holding off rivals Atletico Madrid 4-2 on aggregate to seal a place in the Champions League final.
The two Madrid sides went to penalties in the Champions League decider 12 months ago, but Real looked to be cruising into the final this year with a 3-0 lead after the first leg at the Bernabeu Stadium.
Atletico made them work for the win, however, after a lightning start to the second leg at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
The home side had an early penalty appeal turned down, but they took the lead on the night after 12 minutes when Saul jumped high to head home a corner kick past goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Four minutes later, Real were stunned as Atletico's Antoine Griezmann converted a penalty after striker Fernando Torres was brought down in the box.
No team had ever come back from a 3-0 first-leg deficit in Champions League history, but suddenly, the home side trailed only 2-3 on aggregate, needing only one more goal to level the tie.

Roared on by a big home crowd, Atletico took the game to a nervous-looking Real, but Zinedine Zidane's men gradually grabbed a foothold in the contest.

Right near half-time, Real hit Atletico with a sucker punch as they scored a vital away goal.
Karim Benzema got the ball down Real's left wing, and he proceeded to get out of a tight corner by evading two Atletico defenders before racing to the corner flag, and then dribbling past a third player as he delicately stayed in play.
The Real striker then put on a burst of pace to get to the ball before a fourth defender, and squeeze a pass out to midfielder Toni Kroos, whose low shot was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Unfortunately for Atletico, the ball dribbled out just far enough for goal-poacher Isco to pounce and scramble it home.
Atletico still led 2-1 at the break, but Real's away goal meant Diego Simeone's team now had to score three goals to advance.

The history of Real v Juve

Real Madrid v Juventus in Champions League / European Cup
  • Times the two sides have played: 18
  • Real Madrid wins: 8
  • Juventus wins: 8
  • Draws: 2
  • Previous final meeting: 1997/98 - Real 1 Juventus 0

The home side had the wind taken out of their sails, and they struggled to make an impression in the second half, but Navas made a stunning double save with 25 minutes left to keep Real's margin intact.
Two minutes later Luka Modric nearly finished the game for Real when his mis-hit shot from a corner was bundled into the net by Cristiano Ronaldo, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Real now has an opportunity to win Europe's top club competition for the 12th time, taking on Juventus, who have won the Champions League twice but been runners-up six times, early next month.
In Juventus' favour is the fact that no team has won the competition two years' running since it became the Champions League in 1992-93.