Atletico Madrid has endured its fair share of nightmare setbacks against Cristiano Ronaldo over the years.
Wednesday was a dream start to Atleti’s latest encounter with him.
Two second-half goals – and it should have been more – lifted Atletico Madrid to a 2-0 win against Ronaldo and Juventus in the first leg of their round of 16 tie.
Elsewhere in Europe, Manchester City conceded two first-half penalties but rallied to win behind late goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.
Atleti overwhelms Juve in second half
In one of the round of 16’s marquee matchups, Atletico Madrid faced down old foe Ronaldo and kept pushing forward until the dam finally broke in the 78th minute.
Chaos ensued after a corner kick and the ball ping-ponged around the box before finding the feet of Jose Gimenez, who was opportunistic and sure with his finish:
— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) February 20, 2019
Five minutes later, Diego Godin put the game to bed by firing home a shot from a tight angle that took a deflection off Ronaldo.
It was a sweet outcome for the Atleti faithful, who were on the wrong side of results against Ronaldo in the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals when he was with Real Madrid. In truth, Juventus was fortunate it didn’t lose by more.
But Atleti still emerges two goals to the good, and with the away goals rule in its back pocket heading back to Italy.
Ronaldo’s return to Madrid did not go as he or his club planned, and now they’re in a tough spot. The whole reason Juve shelled out gobs of cash to sign the Portuguese superstar last summer was to win the Champions League for the first time since 1996, and now it has to score at least twice against one of the world’s traditional master lock defenses to even force extra time.
This will be arguably the biggest test of the season for the Italian champions. The second leg should be a treat.
Man City saps suspense with gritty comeback
City looked off and running after Sergio Aguero opened the scoring.
Late in the first half, City just looked off.
The visitors handed Schalke a penalty when Nicolas Otamendi left his hand dangling in the box and deflected a shot. Nabil Bentaleb stepped up and converted the spot kick.
Shortly before the halftime whistle, Bentaleb scored on another penalty kick after Fernandinho hauled down Salif Sane in the area.
Otamendi compounded City’s woes when he received a second yellow card in the 68th minute and was sent off, reducing the visitors to 10 men.
Then again, this is Manchester City. Ten of its men are about as good as 12 of most other teams.
Especially when one is as gifted as Leroy Sane, whose professional career started with Schalke back in 2014. His free kick a few minutes from stoppage time breathed new life into City’s efforts.
Raheem Sterling almost assuredly punched City’s ticket to the quarterfinals by capitalizing on slipshod Schalke defending in the 90th minute.
U.S. international Weston McKennie started at right mid for Schalke and was subbed off in the 78th minute.
Schalke might rue the missed opportunity to bag a win heading back to England. It needs two goals without conceding to regain the advantage, which will be a tall task at the Etihad. City doesn’t figure to be as sloppy in its home environs.
Then again, this tie is already closer than most thought it would be. A monumental upset is not entirely off the table.