Juventus reached the last 16 of the Champions League with two games to spare thanks to Douglas Costa’s superb goal, but as so often is the case, all the talk centered on Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance.
Juve beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 in Group D thanks to Costa’s moment of individual brilliance in stoppage time after the Brazilian came on as a 70th-minute subsitute.
Ronaldo had looked to have given Juve an early lead after his free kick was fumbled by Lokomotiv goalkeeper Guilherme but as the ball began to trickle over the line, Aaron Ramsey made doubly sure to claim the goal.
Had the goal been awarded to Ronaldo the Juve star would have set a new Champions League record by scoring against a 34th different club. It was Ramsey’s first Champions League goal for four years.
“Following a Ronaldo freekick that was hopelessly spilled by the Lokomotiv keeper, Aaron Ramsey tapped it in as it was just going over the line,” tweeted former England international Gary Lineker. “Ronaldo may not be happy with Mr Ramsey … or will the great man get it overturned?”
In the 82nd minute Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri then took the decision to substitute Ronaldo, who looked less than pleased at his withdrawal from the game.
“Ronaldo was angry when he came off because he has a small knee injury and this created another small thigh problem. I replaced him just because I feared he could aggravate his injury,” Sarri told UEFA.com.
That injury did not prevent Ronaldo jumping up to celebrate his side’s winning goal with Juventus joining Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain in qualifying for the knockout phase. Juve last won the Champions League in 1996.
Real Madrid cruises
While Ronaldo was left to rue missing out on breaking yet another record, one of the most exciting young players in Europe took it upon himself to write a new chapter in Champions League history.
Brazilian teenager Rodrygo netted a hat-trick as Real Madrid thrashed Galatasaray 6-0 in the Spanish capital.
Rodrygo scored twice in the opening seven minutes of the contest, becoming the first player to do so in a Champions League match.
At 18 years and 301 days, he also became Real’s second youngest goalscorer after the legendary Raul Gonzalez.
“I’m extremely satisfied tonight,” Rodrygo told UEFA.com. “This has been the realization of a dream.
“Every day I’m advancing a little faster than I’d anticipated. But my attitude is always to work hard, prepare myself and try to ensure that what comes my way doesn’t feel so new or unfamiliar.”
Rodrygo wasn’t the only Real player to make history Wednesday. Karim Benzema also equaled the record set by Lionel Messi by scoring in 15 consecutive Champions League seasons, taking his tally in the competition to 50.
His two goals and a Sergio Ramos penalty secured all three points and leave Real poised to qualify for the knockout stages.
It will almost certainly finish behind Paris Saint-Germain which qualified for the last 16 with a 1-0 win over Club Brugge.
Manchester City meltdown
While Real Madrid cruised to victory, it was a rather more uncomfortable night for Manchester City.
The English champion was held 1-1 by Atalanta in Italy and finished the game with defender Kyle Walker in goal after substitute keeper Claudio Bravo was sent off.
City had made the perfect start to the contest with Raheem Sterling firing his side ahead early in the first half.
But a penalty miss from Gabriel Jesus and an injury to goalkeeper Ederson seemed to knock City out of its stride.
Mario Pasalic equalized for Atalanta four minutes after the break and City’s woes worsened with nine minutes remaining when Bravo was dismissed after charging out of his penalty area and bringing down Josip Ilicic.
With no substitute goalkeeper on the bench, Walker was sent on to keep goal and he even managed a decent save as Atalanta sensed victory.
“Did I volunteer? I think it was a bit of both,” Walker told BT Sport after the game.
“I try and sometimes banter the keepers in training but I found you sometimes have to take two touches to make a save. We came here for a point or victory. To come away from here with a draw is a good point.”
City will be desperately hoping Ederson recovers in time for Sunday’s Premier League showdown with top of the table Liverpool.
The Brazilian, who is one of the world’s best goalkeepers, has been one of the team’s outstanding players and his absence would be a huge blow for Pep Guardiola’s side, with City already trailing Liverpool by six points in the league.
“I don’t know at the moment right now,” Guardiola told BT Sport when asked about whether Ederson would be ready for Sunday.
“In this competition you know you have your chances and moments and you have to take it,” added Guardiola, reflecting on City’s performance against Atalanta.
“But with the problems we have, we made a good first half. First half we were outstanding and second we suffered. In the last 15 minutes we had the issue with the new keeper.”