Controversy reigned at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, as Cristiano Ronaldo’s stoppage-time penalty put Real Madrid into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of Juventus.
Ronaldo’s goal gave Madrid a 4-3 aggregate win overall, although Juventus produced a brilliant performance to win the second leg 3-1 after losing the first 3-0; the game appeared destined for extra time before Medhi Benatia was deemed to have fouled Lucas Vazquez late on.
To further add to the controversy, referee Michael Oliver dismissed Gianluigi Buffon for his complaints in what is expected to be his final European game before retirement.
Needless to say, the reaction to the match has polarised opinion. As we can see courtesy of ItalianFootballTV, the press in Italy were not pleased:
As noted by Liam Prenderville of the Daily Mirror, Corriere dello Sport went with the headline “What a Theft!” La Gazzetta dello Sport also commented on the controversy, as well as focusing on what was an excellent performance from the Italian champions.
Prenderville also relayed a section of La Repubblica’s report, in which it said Juventus went from “the dream to the apocalypse.”
Meanwhile, in the Spanish press, a different approach was taken, as Marca made it clear it thought the right decision was made. The headline read “It Was a Penalty” as we can see here:
As noted by Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC, even within Marca there was disagreement about whether or not the late spot-kick should’ve been awarded:
The manner of the loss, with Juve fighting back, coming so close to extra time and losing to a late Ronaldo penalty has triggered an emotional reaction among those associated with Madrid and Juventus.
Buffon, in particular, was unhappy at the end of the game, as he said Oliver has “a bag of rubbish for a heart,” per BBC Sport.
Buffon was furious after Juve’s elimination.VI-Images/Getty Images
Arguably the strongest reaction of all came from the Catalan media, though, who cover the great rivals of Real Madrid, Barcelona. The latter were eliminated in surprise circumstances on Tuesday, surrendering a three-goal lead against Roma.
Sport didn’t hold back at all in its assessment of Madrid’s dramatic win, as we can see here courtesy of Sport Witness:
Per Allie Hodgkins-Brown of BBC, the Daily Mail focused on the English referee at the heart of the controversy:
With so much at stake, such heated reactions are inevitable at this point in the competition.
Still, Madrid will be delighted to have made it through. They will face one of Liverpool, Bayern Munich or Roma in the semi-finals and will be hopeful of a much more straightforward progression into the final of the competition.