Former Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata came back to haunt his old club as he sent Juventus on its way to a 2-1 victory over the holders in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Tuesday.
Morata, who moved to Juventus in the offseason shortly after helping Madrid to a record 10th European Cup title, didn’t celebrate after scoring the opening goal in the ninth minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the competition’s all-time top scorer with Madrid’s equalizer in the 27th minute but his former Manchester United teammate Carlos Tevez also continued his fantastic season as he restored Juventus’ lead from the spot shortly before the hour after being brought down by Dani Carvajal.
“We played well at times, we had good opportunities, we have to do the same in the return leg,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who had a two-year spell in charge of Juventus from 1999-2001. “We made more mistakes than normal, that was because of Juve’s pressing. Their line was higher in the second half.
“We have confidence because we are playing at home and the fans there will help us. We have to be patient. The result is a negative one, but not such a bad one.”
Juventus, which last won the competition 19 years ago, will continue its bid to reach its first final since 2003 in the return leg in Madrid on May 13.
“I am very happy with the lads’ performance,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “They proved how strong they were, even though I think we can still do better.
“We’ll have to put on a master show at Madrid. We’ll now start preparing for Wednesday, knowing that we have to play even better than tonight.”
Backed by a passionate home crowd, the newly-crowned Italian champions had the better of a frantic opening period and Morata gave his side the perfect start.
Claudio Marchisio slotted the ball through to Tevez and, although Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas got a hand to the Argentine’s shot, he only succeeded in deflecting the ball to Morata, who tapped in from close range.
That was Juve’s fourth shot on target in the opening nine minutes but it was to prove its last on goal of the first half as Madrid slowly got into the game.
Ronaldo had been kept fairly quiet apart from an early free kick which came off a Juventus defender in the wall. But he also went close to the equalizer when he sprung the offside trap to run onto a through-ball from Francisco “Isco” Alarcon but could only send his effort wide of the right upright.
However, Ronaldo did level minutes later, heading into an empty net from close range after James Rodriguez hooked in a cross from the right of the penalty area.
It was the Portugal star’s 76th goal in the competition — one more than Lionel Messi, whose Barcelona side hosts Bayern Munich in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
Rodriguez almost got on the scoresheet himself four minutes from halftime but he headed Alarcon’s cross off the bar from five yards out and Marcelo volleyed the rebound narrowly over the bar.
Juventus had earlier had a chance to restore its lead but Marchisio’s long-range effort flashed just wide of the left upright.
The Italian side was under pressure from Madrid at the start of the second period and it was camped inside its own half in the build-up to its second goal.
A corner was cleared to Tevez, who went on a blistering run down almost the entire length of the field before being brought down by Carvajal.
The tension was palpable and the normally ice-cool Buffon couldn’t even bear to look, standing in his goal with his back to the action. However, Tevez blasted his spot-kick straight down the middle for his 29th goal of the season.
“I’ve been doing that since the 2006 World Cup final,” Buffon said. “I just focused on a single fan and when he got up, I knew we’d scored!”
Madrid brought on Javier Hernandez, who had scored the late winner in his side’s 1-0 aggregate win over Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals, and he almost leveled but just failed to get on the end of a cross from Sergio Ramos.
“We’ve shown we’re here and we want this final, we’ll fight for it until the end,” Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo said. “We have to have the same conviction and determination at Madrid.”
It would be another final in Berlin for Pirlo who, along with Buffon, won the World Cup there with Italy nine years ago. The 35-year-old has hinted he could leave Italy if Juventus wins the Champions League this year.
“We’re hoping to get to another final in Berlin after the World Cup. If we win will I leave Juve? Let’s win it first and then we’ll see.”