Alvaro Morata returns to haunt Real Madrid

Real Madrid 1 Juventus 1 (Agg 2-3): Alvaro Morata was again the hero as a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in last night’s Champions League semi-final second leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu sent Juventus through to the competition’s final.

Alvaro Morata returns to haunt Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo’s first half penalty made the tie even on aggregate, with Madrid ahead on goal difference. But Morata’s second half strike put Juve back 3-2 up overall and Max Allegri’s side will now face Barcelona in the decider in Berlin on Saturday June 6.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti brought centre-forward Karim Benzema straight back into his team after a month out injured, while Juve boss Max Allegri was also able to return fit-again Paul Pogba to his midfield.

The competition’s holders began here with much more intensity and focus than in last week’s first leg — with Gareth Bale heading just over in a chance created inside the opening 40 seconds.

Benzema’s return was also making a huge difference. The France international did brilliantly to control a Dani Carvajal cross, but then sent his shot just too high. Madrid were continuing to make chances — Ronaldo’s free-kick clipped the wall and flew over, Isco also shot just too high. Bale gets involved with chance he makes himself, cutting inside and hammering in 30 yarder that Buffon scrambled around post.

So it was no surprise when Madrid scored midway through the half. Marcelo made ground down the left wing, and James Rodriguez darted into the area. Juve centre-half Giorgio Chiellini intervened clumsily, and Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Ronaldo, who missed a penalty in La Liga last weekend, kept his cool to beat Buffon from the spot.

Juve looked to hit back, but were struggling to find the spaces in Madrid’s back-line which had been so evident last week in Turin.

Carlos Tevez had a few typical driving runs, one of which had lead to an Arturo Vidal shot that was saved by Madrid keeper Iker Casillas.

But generally the home defence looked very comfortable, with veteran midfielder Andrea Pirlo’s delivery from set-pieces being unusually poor.

At the other end Benzema continued to thrive — setting up a couple of half-chances for Ronaldo. The number nine went himself just before half-time, arrowing a shot to the near post which Buffon did well to push away.

With the tie still so evenly poised after the break, Juve looked like they did not know whether to stick or twist. One swift attack did see Claudio Marchisio hammer a 25 yard shot just wide.

At the other end Marcelo bobbled one just past the post from a similar distance. Then, out of almost nothing, Juventus equalised. A free-kick was punched clear by Casillas but returned to the box, Pogba won his header and Morata, who scored in last week’s 2-1 first-leg win, seemed to have an age to let the ball to drop and then rifle a 15 yard shot which was too hot for Casillas.

Suddenly the complexion of the tie had changed completely. Madrid pressed again, and Bale was inches wide with a first-time effort from just eight yards out. James also came close with a drive from further out. Bale was trying hardest of all, but he sent a close range header wide from

Substitute Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and Marcelo claimed another penalty, but Eriksson said no. Despite all the pressure, visiting keeper Buffon had little to do, and Madrid’s efforts waned.

Juve could have made the tie safe, but Casillas saved well from Marchisio and Pogba. The 1-1 was enough for the Old Lady of Turin to reach their first Champions League final since 2003.

And Madrid’s dream of a ‘Clasico’ final against their La Liga rivals Barcelona was dashed.

Sub for Real Madrid: Hernandez for Benzema 67.

Subs for Juventus: Barzagli for Pirlo 79, Llorente for Morata 84, Pereyra for Pogba 89.

Ref: Jonas Eriksson

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