Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo led Real Madrid to their 12th Champions League title, becoming the first club to win the trophy back-to-back for almost 30 years. Juventus, finishing the match with only 10 men, didn’t show up for the second half, ended up losing 4-1, with a wonder goal from Mario Mandzukic not being enough.
The first half belonged to the Italian champions, who fell behind in the 20th minute after a terrific 1-2 between Dani Carvajal and Ronaldo ended going into Gianluigi Buffon’s net. However, Juve’s Croatian striker-turned-winger scored perhaps the best goals ever seen in a Champions League final, with a stunning scissor kick that left Keylor Navas clutching air instead of reaching the ball.
But then came the halftime break, and Zinedine Zidane moves Casemiro forward, giving Toni Kroos more defensive responsibilities. It killed Juventus’ ball movement, paired with a terrible performance from both Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala. The pressure from Real Madrid, not necessarily with shots at goal but mostly by taking over ground on the pitch, eventually paid off.
Casemiro fouled Dani Alves and like for most of this season, got away with it, which also led to his goal. His shot bounced off the ankle of Sami Khedira, giving the ball enough of a spin to fool Buffon and land in his net, giving Real Madrid the 2-1 lead in the 64th minute. Feeling hard done by or not, Juventus seemed stunned, and miscommunication between Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini helped Ronaldo make his way to another comfortable position and score his second goal, his 4th in Champions League finals.
Juventus tried pulling back by introducing Juan Cuadrado and switching their formation to a 4-4-2, but Cuadrado was sent off for two quick yellow cards. The second one was another awful mistake by Felix Brych, letting the embarrassing play-acting by Sergio Ramos help decide the match. With 10 men and an inability to create anything worthwhile towards Navas’ goal, Juventus looked more likely to concede than score, which happened, when Marco Asensio got a piece of the action as well in the 90th minute.
The end? Real Madrid with a third Champions League trophy in four years. Zidane, in less than two years on the job, has won the title twice while also leading Real Madrid to the championship. Ronaldo has 4 UCL trophies, just like Lionel Messi. Kroos, who Pep Guardiola arrogantly gave up on, has proved once more just what a huge game changer he is by simply putting himself in the right place. Juventus? The Bianconeri are in the right direction, but seem to be still a bit too far down the pecking order to make an impact against a super team like Real Madrid, whose 2017 version might be the best football club we’ve ever seen.