From Macdara Ferris in Cardiff
Once again Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to glory on the night when they became the first side to win back-to-back Champions Leagues. What a season for the team from Madrid who win a La Liga and European Cup double for the first time in 59 years and they now have an incredible dozen European titles.
There was to be no fairy tale ending for Gianluigi Buffon as there was heartbreak for Juventus losing their seventh European Cup final extending their unenviable record of most Champions League final defeats.
They had started the game so well but ended up playing out the final few minutes of the match three goals and a man down after substitute Juan Cuadrado picked up two soft yellow cards. It was a sorry end to a game that they began with such gusto.
The Italians dominated the opening period of the match, yet they found themselves a goal down on 20 minutes as Cristiano Ronaldo against the run of play scored Real Madrid’s 500th Champions League goal. However the Italian champions conjured an equliser seven minutes later and it was a goal made of magic.
The ball was moved like a game of heads and volleys into the Real penalty area. Alex Sandro’s sweet side footed pass to Gonzalo Higuain saw him chest the ball and lay it off to Mario Madzukic. Facing away from goal the Croatian’s spectacular overhead kick flighted just over the despairing dive of Keylor Navas to find the back of the net.
Massimiliano Alegri had started with a flat back four and his team tore into Real from the off under the closed roof in Cardiff. Juve created three clear cut chances all in the opening six minutes. Twice Higuain went close. Mandzukic’s cross found the head of the Argentinian but Navas was able to dive and gather readily.
The ‘keeper didn’t do so well moments later when Higuain drifted by Casemiro but his low drive from distance was saved and the Number One had enough time to get the ball at the second attempt. Next the Costa Rican goalkeeper pulled off a top draw save Miralem Pjanic’s shot.
Real weathered that early storm and scored on the break as they moved the ball fast from front to back with a Toni Kroos run from deep freeing up space for Karim Benzema. When Ronaldo played a pass to Dani Caravajal he was able to pick up the return and scored off his right boot.
Juve dropped back into their shell allowing Isco to find space behind the front two of Benzema and Ronaldo and he should have done better when Modric tried to play him in on the edge of the area. Moments later, Juve had equalized and the scoreline stayed that way to the break.
In the opening period of the second half, Real had their shooting boots on as they looked to test Buffon who hadn’t had to make a save in the opening 45 minutes. Luca Modric let fly with his left foot requiring a rudimentary save from Buffon before Marcelo’s effort went just wide of the Juve goal.
Just on the hour mark it opened up in front of goal for Isco but he didn’t trouble Buffon on this occasion. Maybe Real needed that bit of luck to beat Buffon and they got it thanks to a deflection off Sami Khedira's boot soon after. Casemiro’s shot from close on 35 yards was hit with power but the touch off the German midfielder was enough to take the ball right by Buffon's right hand.
Real then doubled their advantage three minutes later. Modric’s pull back was steered home by the right boot of Ronaldo inside the six yard box for his 600th career goal. Allegri made a couple of quick substitutions but the game had gone beyond the six-in-a-row Scudetto winners by then.
Gareth Bale came off the bench to make a happy appearance on home turf but it wasn’t so good for Juve substitute Juan Cuadrado. The Colombian pushed over Sergio Ramos late in the game. He’d already picked up a yellow card and with Ramos rolling around on the ground another yellow card was flourished and then a red.
Juve were completely overwhelmed by then and in the final minute substitute Asensio scored for Real with his left boot connecting onto the pass that came from Marcelo’s end line run. He celebrated by jumping over the pitch side advertising to celebrate with the jubilant Spanish fans sealing the deal on Real’s record of winning each of the six Champions League final they have played in.
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon; Andrea Barzagli (Juan Cuadrado 66), Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Miralem Pjanic? (Claudio Marchisio 71), Sami Khedira; Dani Alves, Paulo Dybala (Mario Lemina 78), Mario Mandzukic, Alex Sandro; Gonzalo Higuain.
Subs not used: Neto, Medhi Benatia, Kwadwo Asamoah, Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Booked: Paulo Dybala (12), Miralem Pjanic (66), Alex Sandro (70), Juan Cuadrado (72 + 84).
Sent Off: Juan Cuadrado (84).
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos ©, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Toni Kroos (Alvaro Morata 89), Casemiro, Luka Modricc; Isco (Marco Asensio 82); Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema (Gareth Bale 77).
Subs not used: Kiko Casilla, Nacho, Danilo, Mateo Kovacicc.
Booked: Sergio Ramos (31), Dani Carvajal (42), Toni Kroos (53), Marco Asensio (94).
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).