Cristiano Ronaldo produced a special display, scoring a hat-trick to guide Juve to a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid, sending them through to the quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate. “It had to be a special night and it was, not just for the goals, but for the team and their incredible attitude,” continued the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“This is the mentality you need in the Champions League and we are on the right track.
“It’s too early to talk about the final, let’s take it one step at a time. Atletico was a complicated team to face, but we are also strong and we deserved to go through.”
Ronaldo have now joins Barcelona’s Lionel Messi with the most Champions League hat-tricks, on eight. The Portuguese has been directly involved in 77 goals in 77 Champions League knockout appearances — 63 goals and 14 assists. He has scored 124 goals in the Champions League, more than Atletico in the competition (118).
The top scorer in the Champions League for the last six seasons, he has now scored four in this year’s competition.
“It would have been strange for Ronaldo to finish the Champions League with just one goal,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“It was a superb match tonight, with a wonderful public. The players gave a great night of football to the Italian public.”
Cristiano Ronaldo showed again he is the best player in the world, according to Juventus team-mate Blaise Matuidi. Matuidi hailed his team-mate after Juve’s incredible victory in Turin, where Ronaldo’s 86th-minute penalty sealed the win.
“It was an extraordinary night for everyone – a special night from the first minute,” he said, via the club’s website.
“We are very happy, and now we are moving ahead with our work. We want to continue to grow in order to progress further in the Champions League.
“We have a strong team, and Cristiano is the best player in the world.”
Ronaldo has scored 24 goals in 36 games in all competitions in his first season at Juve.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri hailed Cristiano Ronaldo, saying it was “impossible to think” the star had just one Champions League goal this season before Tuesday’s heroics.
“It’s impossible to think Cristiano with only one goal scored in this Champions League,” he told a news conference.
“He scored because he played well in the box and his team-mates worked well in the gameplay.
“A great match with an outstanding crowd supporting us and the players gave all Italian football fans a real show. That’s the most important thing.”
Ronaldo’s arrival had seemingly made Juve one of the favourites in the Champions League, which the Serie A champions last won in 1996.
“Juventus is not the favourite to win the Champions League. We are one of the contenders and the trophy is one of our goals for this season, as usual,” Allegri said.
“If we were eliminated it would have not been a failure. Juventus every year must play the Champions League and today, I repeat, we get to the next stage. Because if you don’t pass the round you don’t have any chance to win. It is very simple.
“You don’t need to graduate at Harvard to understand it – if you pass the group stage you have more chances, if not you play Europa League or watch the others from your sofa.”