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Cristiano Ronaldo brace helps Real Madrid become the first team to retain UEFA Champions League

The two teams entered the half-time at 1-1 but Zidane's men dominated the second half

Utathya Nag utathya10 4 June 2017, 6:05 PM

Real Madrid players celebrate their 12th Champions League win at Cardiff Image: AFP

Ronaldo bagged a brace against Juventus in the Champions League final Image: AFP

Mandzukic scored a wonder goal in the 27th minute to bring parity back Image: AFP

Casemiro's deflected long-ranger restored Real Madrid's lead in the second half Image: AFP

Ronaldo doubled Real's lead just three minutes later after he ghosted in between two defenders to get on the end of a Luka Modric cross Image: AFP

Juventus' Colombian midfielder Juan Cuadrado was given the marching orders after receiving his second yellow card in the 84th minute Image: AFP

Asensio put the final nail in Juve's coffin after scoring Real's fourth in the 90th minute Image: AFP

A dejected Gianluigi Buffon after the 2017 UEFA Champions League final Image: AFP

Real Madrid rode a Cristiano Ronaldo brace to beat Juventus 1-4 in the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff, becoming the first-ever team in the Champions League era to retain the trophy.

The first half saw the two teams go toe-to-toe with entertaining football on display for the fans. Juve carved out the better chances in the early exchanges with goalkeeper Keylor Navas called into action a couple of times. The goalkeeper blocked a header and strike from Gonzalo Higuain and produced a one-handed save when Miralem Pjanic picked a gap through a crowd of defenders.

But it was Ronaldo who broke the deadlock in the 20th minute after his low deflected shot eluded a diving Gianluigi Buffon.

At the end of the 25th season of the Champions League, Ronaldo is the first player to score in the three of the competition's finals. And having lifted the European Cup once with Manchester United, Ronaldo has done it three times in four seasons with Madrid.

However, Ronaldo's first strike at Millennium Stadium was cancelled out by Mario Mandzukic's exquisite 27th-minute hook shot. The two teams went into the break at 1-1 with everything to play in the second half.

After play resumed, Zinedine Zidane's men took the match by the scruff of the neck and Madrid's supremacy was clear in the second half, with the Los Blancos taking control of the midfield. After Casemiro put the Spanish champions back in front in the 61st, Ronaldo turned in the third at the near post inside three minutes, and Marco Asensio wrapped up the scoring on the 90th.

"In the second half Real Madrid pushed the accelerator and we remained too static and sat back too long," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said after the match.

Madrid's attacking brilliance proved too hard for Juventus to contain, giving Zinedine Zidane his second Champions League title in 18 months of top-flight management.

"Zidane believes in us a lot. He knows that we are a very good team and that is why we proved it in the second half," Ronaldo said.

Until now, no team since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, when the cup was only a knockout competition, had won back-to-back titles. This was the first time the feat was achieved in the Champions League era.

It was the culmination of a counterattack of breathtaking speed launched by Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. Karim Benzema picked up possession and passed to Ronaldo. The world player of the year knocked the ball across to Dani Carvajal on the right flank before drifting into the penalty area to receive it back and beat Buffon.

But within seven minutes, Ronaldo was shaking his head with a scowl after seeing an equalizer of individual brilliance.

Leonardo Bonucci's deep ball was brought down by Alex Sandro, who cut it back to Higuain in the penalty area. With his back to goal, Mandzukic received the chipped pass from Higuain and used his chest to control the ball before hooking it over his shoulder into the far top corner.

Mandzukic also scored the last time the final was held in Britain when Bayern Munich beat Barcelona in 2013. But the magnificence evoked memories of another showpiece staged in the UK in 2002 when Zidane volleyed into the top corner in Glasgow to help Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen.

Domination was verified after the break when Madrid went back in front — through Casemiro's strike which deflected off Sami Khedira — and this time the lead was retained.

It owed much to Madrid controlling midfield, largely thanks to Modric, who set up Ronaldo's second. The Croatian timed his cutback to perfection in the 64th to allow Ronaldo to ghost in between Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini and slot in at the near post.

Juve's night took a turn for the worse when Juan Cuadrado was dismissed for a second booking in the 84th. And to compound their misery, Asensio beat Buffon again as the 39-year-old goalkeeper missed out on a first European title.

"(Madrid) showed their class and the attitude needed to play in this kind of game," Buffon said after losing a third final.

(WIth inputs from AP)

Read more:

11 years on, it's Zinedine Zidane vs Gianluigi Buffon in the Champions League Final

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