Baku, May 6, AZERTAC
Juventus's semi-final first-leg win owed much to the men who have scored ten of their 15 goals this campaign, including the two strikes that felled Real Madrid CF in Turin, according to UEFA.
Carlos Tévez spoke of a "great night" for him and Juventus after he and strike partner Álvaro Morata secured the Bianconeri a slender advantage to take to Real Madrid CF for next week's UEFA Champions League semi-final return leg.
"We played a great game," the Argentinian international told UEFA.com after Juventus's 2-1 win on Tuesday. "We deserved the victory, it's an important result for us. But now we have to play in Madrid with the same determination, the same focus and the same will to win and to impose ourselves. Nothing has changed in terms of our chance of getting through."
Tévez tormented the Madrid defence with his runs, often dropping deep to find space between holding midfielders Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos and Carlo Ancelotti's back four. "Our coach [Massimiliano Allegri] prepared the game plan really well – he wanted us to keep Madrid's defenders guessing and it worked pretty well," the No10 explained. "In the first half I was retreating quite deep, in the second I played further forward."
It was Madrid old boy Morata, however, who fired Juve in front after eight minutes with an easy tap-in after Iker Casillas could only parry a Tévez shot. Cristiano Ronaldo – who else? – responded for the visitors, yet Tévez continued to work tirelessly for the cause and just before the hour he converted a penalty which he had earned with a great run abbreviated by Dani Carvajal in the box.
It was his seventh strike of this European campaign; remarkable to think that only last September he had not scored for five years in the UEFA Champions League, the competition he won in 2008 with Manchester United FC.
Between them, Tévez and Morata have claimed ten of the Italian champions' 15 goals in this tournament. Little wonder the 31-year-old waxed lyrical about his attacking colleague on the eve of this first leg. "Morata has come on very fast in the past few months and is ready to play big games – he won't feel the pressure."
The Spanish international, 22, quickly vindicated that praise. "It wasn't a great goal but it was good for our victory," Morata said of his early strike. "However, we haven't achieved anything yet – we will treat the return leg like it's still 0-0, trying to win again. I know it will be difficult, we will need a perfect performance, even better than today. They are the best team in the world."
Morata, who declined to celebrate out of respect for his former club, knows a thing or two about Madrid and the Santiago Bernabéu. He came through the Blancos' youth system, registering ten goals in 37 Liga outings before joining Juve last summer, with Madrid insisting on a buy-back clause.
When Morata scored it was hard not to think about 2004 when Fernando Morientes, then on loan from Real, helped AS Monaco FC eliminate the Spanish giants in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. "When I came here I thought we could reach the semi-finals," the No9 noted. "But now we must keep working hard because we can dare to dream. We want to take the next step."