SPORTS


Morata takes Juve through at Madrid's expense

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Baku, May 14, AZERTAC 

Álvaro Morata returned to the Santiago Bernabéu to score the goal that took Juventus into a first final since 2003 and ended Real Madrid CF's hopes of becoming the first side to defend the trophy in the UEFA Champions League era, according to uefa.com.

Facing a semi-final first-leg deficit, Madrid were on the front foot from the outset and were rewarded midway through the first half as James Rodríguez won a penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo slotted in. However, Juve responded strongly after half-time and ex-Madrid forward Morata fired them level shortly before the hour. Thereafter some determined defending ensured the Italian champions reached their eighth European Cup final, and first since 2003.

Beaten 2-1 in Turin, Madrid – who had been pressed back from the first whistle last week – seized the initiative from the off with Gareth Bale heading narrowly over within the first 40 seconds. Karim Benzema – making his first appearance in a month following a knee injury – showed good control to create space for a shot, only to blaze over before Ronaldo's deflected free-kick landed on the top of the net.

Although Arturo Vidal's low effort forced a sprawling Iker Casillas into action for the first time, the main threat continued to come from Carlo Ancelotti's team, Benzema springing the offside trap. His cross was scrambled clear before Gianluigi Buffon pushed away Bale's dipping 25m attempt.

With 22 minutes on the clock, the Bianconeri cracked as Giorgio Chiellini was adjudged to have fouled James. Ronaldo had missed a penalty in Saturday's Liga draw against Valencia CF but held his nerve from the spot this time, clipping the ball over the diving Buffon.

The visiting No1 twice foiled Benzema before the break to keep Massimiliano Allegri's side in contention, first saving a header before blocking a low strike at the near post. Ronaldo also went close, outpacing the defence but ruffling only the side netting.

Claudio Marchisio and Marcelo both sent shots whistling wide in the early stages of the second period, although now it was Juventus looking to show greater attacking intent. That was borne out as Madrid failed to clear Andrea Pirlo's free-kick and Paul Pogba's powerful leap knocked the ball on to Morata, who rifled beyond Casillas.

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