Isco Shines As Real Madrid Book Final Berth Against Juventus To Defend Their European Crown
Real Madrid booked a place in the Champions League against Juventus final on Wednesday night following a tense Champions League semi-final return leg away to Atletico Madrid in the last European game to be held in the Vicente Calderon stadium.
A close range goal from Isco on the break of halftime was vital in easing Real Madrid into the final 4-2 on aggregate after a blistering start from their rivals, who won 2-1 on the night.
Knowing they needed at least three goals to get back from their 3-0 first leg defeat, Atletico proposed a physical affair and Danilo and Stefan Savic were booked in the first five minutes.
Before the halftime break Diego Godin, Gabi and Sergio Ramos had joined them in the referee’s book, all for protesting as the referee let several tough challenges unpunished.
By then Atletico were 2-0 ahead after Saul Niguez headed the home side ahead from a Koke corner in the 11th minute, before Antoine Griezmann doubled Atletico’s lead six minutes later after Rafael Varene had fouled Fernando Torres in the Real Madrid penalty area.
To their credit Real Madrid remained calm and proceeded to dominate possession for the rest of the half, frustrating the home players and taking the sting out of Atletico’s attacking thrust.
Isco got a vital away goal three minutes before halftime after brilliant work from Karim Benzema in twisting his way past two defenders on the goal-line before pulling the ball back for Tony Kroos. Although Jan Oblak saved the German’s shot, Isco was on hand to score from close range.
Real looked to continue their control of midfield in the second half and Atletico coach Diego Simeone responded with a double change replacing Torres and Gimenez with Thomas Partey and Kevin Gameiro.
Keylor Navas made a double save on 65 minutes to deny Yannick Carrasco’s low shot and Antoine Griezmann’s header from the rebound.
Luka Modric then had a goal ruled out due to a questionable positional offside from Ronaldo before Navas saved low on his near post to deny Griezmann.
As the players tired the game opened up and only a late challenge from Thomas denied Benzema, while Ramos denied Griezmann almost on the goal-line.
The game ended in the middle of a tremendous thunderstorm and despite their side’s exit, the home fans cheered their players off the pitch. They knew Atletico had tried everything possible, but the damage had been done 8 days before in the Bernabeu.