Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot to win his battle against rival Lionel Messi and lead Juventus to a 3-0 win over Barcelona on Tuesday, securing the Italian top spot in the Group G Champions League. The former Real Madrid forward and his Argentina counterpart exchanged Ballon d’Or wins for a decade from 2008 to 2017 and became the kings of the Spanish giants, but there was just one winner at the Camp Nou that they played for the first time since Ronaldo’s departure for Juve in 2018.
Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus lost 2-0 at home to Barcelona in October without Ronaldo, sidelined with COVID-19, but was vastly strengthened and secured the first Champions League victory over Barcelona since Bayern Munich won in 2013.
Both sides, level at 15 points, were confident of qualifying before kick-off, but Juve’s three-goal win gave them a top-of-the-line record. Ronald Koeman, reeling from Barcelona’s 2-1 loss in Saturday’s Minnows Cadiz in La Liga, responded by making four changes, but the hosts got off to a poor start.
It just took Ronaldo 13 minutes to crack the deadlock, slotting home from the penalty spot after the referee judged Ronald Araujo’s appeal to him to be a foul.
Juventus didn’t give up, and their pressure led to a second goal, the U.S. Midwayer Weston McKennie carrying in Juan Cuadrado’s sweetly clipped cross in the 20th minute.
At last, the Catalans and their captain Messi woke up from their nap, when the intruder had one shot stopped by Matthijs de Ligt and the other saved by experienced goalie Gianluigi Buffon, as Pjanic lashed over the counter.
Ronaldo converted his second penalty spot in the 52nd minute after Clement Lenglet’s sloppy treatment of the field as the hosts imploded.
Antoine Griezmann, who was invisible in the first half, grazed the crossbar with a Messi free kick loop, and Buffon beat another shot, with enough pressure from De Ligt to save Martin Braithwaite from scoring the rebound.
Leonardo Bonucci’s fourth goal was discarded after he tapped Ronaldo’s near range attempt, with Messi attempting in vain at the other end to answer Ronaldo, but he found the 42-year-old Buffon in his path time and time again.