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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Ronaldo hat-trick inspires Juventus

Treble: Cristiano Ronaldo
Treble: Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo fired a hat-trick as Juventus beat Atletico Madrid 3-0 on the night to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Late goals from Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin had secured Atletico a 2-0 first-leg advantage, but Ronaldo headed Juve level with headers in either half and converted a late penalty to clinch them a deserved 3-2 aggregate win.

Ronaldo produced two towering headers and showed ice cool nerves to smash home an 86th-minute spot kick after Federico Bernardeschi went down under Angel Correa's challenge.

Juve, runaway leaders in Serie A after going 27 games unbeaten and 18 points clear of closest rivals Napoli, dominated early possession. Midfielder Blaise Matuidi and Federico Bernardeschi had shots blocked before Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann's swerving shot troubled Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, but Alvaro Morata was flagged offside.

Juve responded and took the lead on the night in the 27th minute through Ronaldo, who out-jumped Godin at the far post and headed Bernardeschi's cross powerfully beyond Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

It was the Portuguese's 22nd goal in 36 games for Juve and his 23rd in 33 appearances against the Spanish club.

Bernardeschi twice fired over from outside the penalty area and Ronaldo went close to levelling the scores on aggregate when he headed Leonardo Spinazzola's cross wide.

Four minutes into the second period Ronaldo struck his second to put Juve 2-0 up and level the tie, soaring highest again to head home Joao Cancelo's cross.

Oblak appeared to have pulled off a stunning save, but Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers checked with the goalline technology on his watch and correctly awarded a goal.

Bernardeschi made a hash of his header from another Cancelo cross before Atletico's Angel Correa crashed a rising shot just off target. Mario Mandzukic fired an angled effort wide as the game entered the final quarter and Moise Kean was narrowly off target as Juve chased the decisive third goal.

There were four minutes remaining when Bernardeschi's storming run carried him into the box and when he was nudged over by Correa, Kuipers pointed to the spot and Ronaldo made no mistake from 12 yards.

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