TURIN, Italy: Former Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata came back to haunt his old club as he sent Juventus on their way to a 2-1 victory over the holders in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final early this morning.
Morata, who moved to Juventus in the offseason shortly after helping Madrid to a record 10th European Cup title, didn’t celebrate after scoring the opening goal in the ninth minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the competition’s all-time top scorer with Madrid’s equaliser in the 27th minute but his former Manchester United teammate Carlos Tevez also continued his fantastic season as he restored Juventus’ lead from the spot shortly before the hour after being brought down by Dani Carvajal.
Juventus, who last won the competition 19 years ago, will continue their bid to reach their first final since 2003 in the return leg in Madrid on May 13.
Backed by a passionate home crowd, the newly-crowned Italian champions had the better of a frantic opening period.
The fans bayed for a penalty in the opening minute when Arturo Vidal fell between two Madrid players and Morata also went close.
The Spaniard did get his goal moments later. Claudio Marchisio slotted the ball through to Tevez and, although Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas got a hand to the Argentine’s shot, he only succeeded in deflecting the ball to Morata, who tapped in from close range.
That was Juve’s fourth shot on target in the opening nine minutes but it was to prove its last on goal of the first half as Madrid slowly got into the game.
Toni Kroos almost levelled immediately but Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon dived smartly to his right to turn the shot around his post.
Ronaldo had been kept fairly quiet apart from an early free kick which came off a Juventus defender in the wall. But he also went close to the equalizer when he sprung the offside trap to run onto a through-ball from Francisco "Isco" Alarcon but could only send his effort wide of the right upright.
However, Ronaldo did level minutes later, heading into an empty net from close range after James Rodriguez hooked in a cross from the right of the penalty area. It was the Portugal star’s 76th goal in the competition – one more than Lionel Messi, whose Barcelona side hosts Bayern Munich in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
Rodriguez almost got on the scoresheet himself four minutes from halftime but he headed Alarcon’s cross off the bar from five yards out and Marcelo volleyed the rebound narrowly over the bar.