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  HOME | Sports (Click here for more)

Real Madrid, Juve Bounced Out of Champions League



LONDON – Real Madrid fell 2-1 to Manchester City in Friday’s second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie to lose 4-2 on aggregate, while Juventus prevailed on the night by the same score over Olympique Lyon only to be eliminated by virtue of the French side’s away goal.

Both the Blancos and Juve won their respective national titles and the two storied clubs will have to settle for just one trophy each in this pandemic-disrupted season.

Real Madrid failed to reach the final four in the Copa del Rey and the Bianconeri lost the Coppa Italia final to Napoli.

The Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane brought his perfect record in Champions League elimination games into Manchester’s Etihad Stadium for the showdown with Pep Guardiola, looking for his first Champions title since guiding Barcelona to triumph in 2011.

Zidane has hoisted the trophy three times as a manager, compared with Guardiola’s two triumphs as Barça boss.

Though he may have had previous form on his side, Zidane was without team captain and defensive stalwart Sergio Ramos, who had to watch from the stands due to the red card he picked up in the first leg.

The absence of Ramos was keenly felt by his partner on the back line, Raphael Varane, whose mistakes contributed to both of City’s goals.

Nine minutes in, Varane was passing the ball back and forth with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois when City’s Gabriel Jesus robbed the defender and passed to Raheem Sterling for the easy goal.

Karim Benzema forced a save from Ederson in the 21st minute and the City keeper had to stir again seconds later to deny Eden Hazard.

The visitors continued to create trouble in City’s end and Benzema got the equalizer in the 28th minute, heading in a cross from Rodrygo.

Courtois was tested by Joao Cancelo in the 37th before City’s Phil Foden fired wide in the 42nd. And the Blancos keeper had to be on his toes to keep out a Kevin De Bruyne corner in first-half stoppage time.

The hosts started the second half determined to get the vital second goal, but Real Madrid seized the initiative for an extended stretch and Benzema remained a constant threat.

Jesus stretched Courtois with a strike in the 66th minute and managed to beat the Belgian international two minutes later, courtesy of a second blunder by Varane.

In Turin, Juve started the match trailing 1-0 after losing the first leg in Lyon and saw the mountain grow even higher in the 12th minute on Memphis Depay’s penalty after Juve’s Rodrigo Bentancur tangled with Houssem Aouar inside the box.

The penalty was unwarranted, but VAR failed to intervene and Lyon took a 2-0 advantage.

Left reeling by the visitors’ goal, Juve struggled on the attack and as has been the case so often since he came to Turin, it was left to 35-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo to spark a comeback.

Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes had to be great to stop the Portuguese superstar on a direct free kick in the 38th minute.

Ronaldo got another chance in the 43rd, this time from the spot, as the referee awarded Juve an undeserved penalty because Miralem Pjanic’s free kick struck Depay’s arm.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner converted with authority to revive Juve’s hopes of continuing their quest for a first Champions League title since 1996.

He brought the home side level on aggregate with a blast from 25 yards at the hour mark. But a 2-2 final would send Lyon to the quarterfinals on the basis of their away goal, so Juventus coach Mauricio Sarri decided to take a gamble.

With 20 minutes left, he sent in Paulo Dybala, still recovering from an injury, with the aim of supporting Ronaldo. The wager fell flat, as the Argentine striker limped off the pitch after 10 minutes.

Lyon was dogged in defense and managed to see out the match to set up a quarterfinal clash with Man City.

 

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