Juventus
    13.05.2015 23:24 - in: Champions League S

    Berlin, here we come!

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    Alvaro Morata cancels out Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener to take Juventus past Real Madrid with a 3-2 aggregate scoreline, setting up a Champions League final date with Barcelona on 6 June.

    A second-half Alvaro Morata equaliser enabled Juventus to set up a Champions League final meeting with Barcelona courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate triumph over Real Madrid on an incredible night at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Heading into the game with a slender advantage following last week’s first leg, the Bianconeri saw the pendulum swing in the hosts’ favour when Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the spot on 23 minutes.

    But Morata, who swapped Madrid for Turin in the summer, had what proved to be the final say, sealing a spot in this year’s Champions League final in Berlin with a purposeful close-range finish past Iker Casillas that ended the club’s 12-year absence from the competition’s ultimate hurdle.

    Real began the brighter of the two sides going forward, producing attempts from Gareth Bale and the recalled Karim Benzema in the opening six minutes, but the Bianconeri looked assured and happy to soak up any early pressure.

    After surviving a brief scare when Ronaldo’s direct free-kick clipped off Arturo Vidal and landed on the roof of the net, Juventus began to do some pressing of their own, with the Chilean forcing Casillas into a smart diving stop after dispatching a low left-footed drive from the edge of the area.

    The balance then tipped back into the hosts’ favour and, after seeing an Isco chip fall over the top, the services of Gigi Buffon were required to thwart Bale’s long-range strike with an excellent save.

    There was little he could do moments later though, as Ronaldo’s penalty, awarded for Giorgio Chiellini’s intervention on James Rodriguez in the box, went straight down the middle to turn the tie in Los Blancos’ favour.

    In spite of the Bianconeri shading possession and gaining increasing yardage in opposition territory, Los Blancos remained a threat going forward, with a Benzema-Buffon duel producing fine stops from the Frenchman’s header and near-post effort.

    Needing a goal to regain their grip on the tie, Juventus emerged for the second half with a bolder approach and took control of possession, stringing some neat moves together in the opposition half in their search for a goal.

    This duly came on 57 minutes when Morata displayed a cool head in a tight spot to gather Paul Pogba’s header and smash an unstoppable finish past Casillas, sending the away fans positioned in the far corner into ecstasy.

    Back came Madrid and Bianconeri hearts were firmly in mouths when Bale had the chance to round off a lovely move involving Rodriguez and Marcelo, only for the Welshman to volley wide from a matter of yards on 63 minutes.

    Moments later it was James’ turn to send Juventus pulses racing, guiding a dipping effort just over the bar with Buffon motionless.

    But with the game now fully stretched, chances also fell the way of Juventus, who had a golden opportunity to double their lead with 20 minutes remaining, Claudio Marchisio seeing his low strike foiled only by a miraculous Casillas stop.

    With Real continuing to crank up the pressure, Massimiliano Allegri opted to bolster his backline on 72 minutes, replacing Andrea Pirlo, who was afforded a generous ovation by the Bernabeu, with central defender Andrea
    Barzagli.

    The added numbers in defence seemed to do the trick as, bar a couple of late flutters, the Bianconeri saw out the remaining minutes with maturity to set up a mouthwatering showdown with Barcelona on Saturday 6 June in Berlin.

    The dream continues…

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