‘Juve can go all the way,’ says Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo had every reason to jump for joy after yet another Champions League masterclass. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019
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‘Juve can go all the way,’ says Ronaldo

  • The Portuguese star was at his brilliant best as the Turin giants came back from a 2-0 first-leg defeat at Atletico Madrid to win at home 3-0 and go through to the last eight
  • The Champions League has been his favorite stage throughout his stunning career, and he scored his eighth hat-trick in the competition to sink Atletico hearts

LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo sent a message to Real Madrid fans and an ominous warning to the rest of Europe after his brilliant hat-trick sent Juventus storming into the Champions League quarterfinals.
The Portuguese star was at his brilliant best as the Turin giants came back from a 2-0 first-leg defeat at Atletico Madrid to win at home 3-0 and go through to the last eight.
It was always going to take something special to beat the Spanish side — they had never lost when up 2-0 from the first leg, and the side is one of, if not the most defensively disciplined in Europe. With Diego Simeone at the helm, it was, everyone assumed, mission impossible for Juve.
But those predictions reckoned without another jaw-dropping Ronaldo display. The Champions League has been his favorite stage throughout his stunning career, and he scored his eighth hat-trick in the competition to sink Atletico hearts.
No sooner had he once again done the “impossible” than he told their last-eight rivals that more was to come.
“This was why Juventus brought me here, to help do things that they have never done before, to help them in games like this. I do my job and I’m very happy. It was a magical evening,” the 34-year-old said. “It was always going to be a special night and it was — not only for the goals but for the team. This is the mentality you need to win in the Champions League. We enjoyed a magical night.
Atletico were a difficult team but we were strong too. We will see what will happen.”
The first-leg had been a tough one for Ronaldo. The former Real Madrid star was back in the Spanish capital but at the home of Real’s city rivals. The fans let him know it and the Portuguese was not at his best. But having turned the tie around three weeks later, he was able to get his own back.
“I send a hug to all Real Madrid fans,” he said with a wink after his masterclass.
When a player usually says something along the lines of “that’s why they bought me,” there is an understandable temptation to dismiss a statement as being egotistical nonsense. But with Ronaldo, never one to shy away from reminding you how good he is, there is a huge sense that he was spot on.
Despite dominating Serie A, Juve are without a Champions League win since 1996, and an appearance in the final since 2015. Desperate for European glory, they spent over €100 million ($113 million) on the then-33-year-old, for some too much on a player that age. Now it is looking like good business; he was, as he said, brought for nights like these.
For defeated coach Simeone, there was no bitterness as he claimed there is no better player than the Portuguese hero, saying: “Cristiano Ronaldo is the best in the world. He can put in these performances on big nights.”


Green triple-double fuels Warriors’ comeback win

Updated 19 May 2019
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Green triple-double fuels Warriors’ comeback win

  • The Golden State Warriors rallied for a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland
  • The two-time defending champion Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter

LOS ANGELES: Draymond Green exploded for a seventh career playoff triple-double Saturday as the Golden State Warriors rallied for a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland and a 3-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference finals.
The two-time defending champion Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter, but with Green driving them they produced another dominant third period to seize control of the contest and the series.
No team has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win an NBA playoff series. The Trail Blazers will try to fend off elimination when they host game four on Monday.
Green scored 20 points with 13 rebounds and 12 assists, keeping the Warriors afloat in the first half before superstar Stephen Curry came alive with 21 of his 36 points after the interval.
“There aren’t many guys in the game that can (affect both ends of the floor),” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Green beforehand. “Draymond can do both.”
His intensity was on display on both ends of the court, and on the sidelines as he exhorted teammates to keep pushing.
Klay Thompson added 19 points for the Warriors, who were again without injured star Kevin Durant.
“All my teammates, my coaches have been telling me, ‘Draymond, get to the hole, be aggressive,’” Green said of his mindset.
“We’ve got guys out there, Steph, Klay and those guys who draw a lot of attention, so it’s on me to do my job and come through for those guys.”
CJ McCollum led Portland with 23 points. Damian Lillard, relentlessly double-teamed by the Warriors, added 19 points.
Center Meyers Leonard, making just his third start of the season, finished with 16 points.
Leonard made the most of his opportunity early, connecting on five of seven shots from the field in the first half on the way to 13 points.
The Trail Blazers, energized in front of a rowdy home crowd at the Moda Center, quickly built a 10-point lead before the Warriors trimmed it to two — 29-27 — at the end of the first quarter.
But the Blazers kept the pressure on, stretching the lead to 18 in the second quarter.
A steal by Lillard produced a thunderous dunk from Leonard, then Portland’s Seth Curry stole the ball from his superstar brother Stephen and raced for a three-pointer that made it 60-42 with 2:28 remaining in the first half.
Portland took a 66-53 lead into the locker room, but the Warriors responded with a monster third quarter, using a 22-6 scoring run to take their first lead of the game, 77-76 on a layup by Kevin Looney — assisted by Green.
Golden State out-scored Portland 29-13 in the quarter to lead by three heading into the final frame.
The Warriors pushed the lead to 11 with 4:51 remaining and the Trail Blazers wouldn’t get the deficit below eight from there.