The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Real Madrid off to Turin with slender lead

Real Madridís kaleidoscope of colour only just shaded the black-and-white ensemble here at an increasingly frustrated and rain-swept Bernabeu last night.

For all the sublime brush strokes of Zinedine Zidane and typically Brazilian strikes of Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos, the European champions could not shake off a dogged, often dirty Juventus side who carry David Trezeguetís away goal back to Turin for next weekís return of this fascinatingly-poised Champions League semi-final.

After all the speculation about David Beckham, it was Trezeguet who had set them talking at the Bernabeu.

Like Beckham and United during their visit here, Juventus had been torn apart in the first half, their midfield bisected and bypassed by the sweet passing moves of Realís creative department at full throttle.

But unlike Beckham and United, the Italians only slipped up once in the opening stages, being punished by the brilliant Ronaldo, and even turned around level following Trezeguetís riposte on the cusp of half-time.

The Italians are back at the business end of European competitions and so is their relentless commitment to denying opponents through fair means or foul. Lilian Thuram made some important interceptions, Ciro Ferrara also read unfolding dangers well.

But the Italians also paraded their dark tricks, the body-checks on slippery wingers like Luis Figo, the scything challenges from behind on fonts of flair like Ronaldo and Zidane, the shirt-pulling to stop flying machines like Carlos taking off or the foot up to down Guti.

A lengthening crime-sheet charted by the excellent Norwegian referee, Terje Hauge, soon bore the names of Gianluca Zambrotta, Alessandro Birindelli, Antonio Conte, Mark Iuliano and Ferrara, whose suspension for the second leg is offset by the return of Paolo Montero.

Juventus attempted to stop anyone getting through but Real are like zephyrs, blowing through any gaps. Zidane, revelling in this chance to torture his old employers, was again immense.

Realís Italian guests represent qualities alien to the Spanish philosophy of football as fiesta. That is why the Bernabeuís most impassioned section chanted incessantly against Juventus. Just to ram home the point, the abuse was sung in Italian.

The Real Madrid players chose a more attractive means of alarming Juventus.

Zidane whipped in a free-kick that Gianluigi Buffon, diving smartly to his right, pushed away. Then Ronaldo struck, the Brazilian inspired into one of those trademark blurs of devastating action.

The midway point in the first half had been reached when Ronaldo clicked into life, feeding the ball into the feet of Fernando Morientes, who was brutally brought down by Iuliano.

The referee, instinctively sensing an advantage, waved play on and there was Ronaldo, who had continued his run, to place the ball low and hard to Buffonís left.

Ronaldo then took a real hammering from Iuliano, who sought to escape blame by holding his face. Iulanio was withdrawn at half-time and Ronaldo did not last much longer, hobbling away with an injury to his left knee (fortunately not the one bearing that vivid, post-operation scar).

By then Juventus were level. Nedved had given notice of the menace in the visitorsí ranks with a turn and shot that needed careful watching by Iker Casillas. Back came Juventus again, sensing a slackening by Real just before the break.

Del Piero cut in from the left and his shot deflected off Michel Salgado to Trezeguet. The French forward killed the ballís momentum with his left foot and then flicked it right-footed past Casillas.

Real looked tired, but they still exuded class, not least when Carlos drilled in a powerful shot that raced past Buffon. Juventus were incensed, convinced Morientes had been close to Buffon and in an off-side position.

The linesman even raised his flag instantly but Hauge indicated a goal which sent the Italians into an orbit of indignation.


Real Madrid (4-2-2-2): Casillas; Michel Salgado, Hierro, Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Makelele, Guti; Figo, Zidane; Morientes (Solari, 78), Ronaldo (Portillo, 48).

Juventus (4-4-1-1): Buffon; Thuram, Ferrara, Iuliano (Pessotto, 46), Birindelli; Nedved (Di Vaio, 80), Conte, Tudor (Camoranesi, 78), Zambrotta; Del Piero; Trezeguet.

Referee: T Hauge (Norway).

Email This Page