Cristiano Ronaldo reflects on ‘magical night’ for Juventus
Cristiano Ronaldo hailed it a “magical night” after his hat-trick helped Juventus overturn a two-goal deficit in their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo inspired the Italians to a stunning fightback with two towering headers and a nerveless late penalty, which sealed a 3-0 win on the night after they lost the first leg 2-0 in Madrid.
“It was always going to be a special night – and it was, not only for the goals, but for the team,” Ronaldo told Juve’s official website.
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“This is the mentality of champions, this is the journey to follow. We enjoyed a magical night.”
Late goals from Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin had earned Atletico a 2-0 first-leg advantage, but Ronaldo produced two trademark headers in either half and converted a late penalty to clinch a deserved 3-2 aggregate win.
“Atletico were a difficult team, but we were strong too. We will see what will happen,” added Ronaldo, who has scored 124 goals in 160 Champions League appearances.
Joao Cancelo, who provided the cross for Ronaldo’s second header in the 49th minute, hailed his Portugal team-mate after a thrilling tie.
“Ronaldo? He’s fantastic,” Cancelo said. “Now we will think about the league, we want to win against Genoa (on Sunday).
“This victory was important for the team. In the week, we worked well and we deserved this success.”
Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci saluted the home fans in Turin and also quickly switched focus to the Serie A game at Genoa.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, are currently 18 points clear at the top of the table.
“It’s a great night for the Juventus family and we responded on the field,” Bonucci said.
“In the first leg we were missing something, but today, we gave everything, and Allianz Stadium was our 12th man in an incredible night.
“But now we want to win in Genoa, to continue our journey and prepare a great month of April.”
Atletico ended the first leg in rousing fashion in Madrid, but offered little threat in the return and boss Diego Simeone was magnaminous in defeat.
“They were better than us,” Simeone told a press conference. “We didn’t have many chances apart from (Alvaro) Morata’s header. Juventus played very well, we have to congratulate them.”
Atletico are second in LaLiga, seven points behind leaders Barcelona, but five ahead of city rivals Real Madrid and Simeone turned his attention to Sunday’s trip to Athletic Bilbao.
“We have to get up tomorrow and keep working,” the Argentinian added. “Now we must finish LaLiga in the best way possible.”