UCL: Isco Made Real Madrid Reach Their Second Consecutive UEFA Champions League Final | Match Report

The defending European champions Real Madrid reached the Final of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League in the Welsh city of Cardiff despite suffering a narrow defeat in the second leg at Estadio Vicente Calderon.


PRE-MATCH
Fernández was absent due to a knee injury. Three players (Vrsaljko, Juanfran and Gimenez) were doubtful for the second leg. However, Gimenez was included in the starting eleven as several players in that position were injured. Fernando Torres replaced Kevin Gameiro up front. The rest of the remaining starting eleven remained unchanged.

Atletico Madrid | S-XI: Oblak (GK), Godin (C), Savic, Gimenez, Filipe Luis, Koke, Saul, Carrasco, Gabi, Griezmann, Torres. Substitutes: Moya (GK), Tiago, Correa, Hernandez, Gameiro, Thomas, Gaitan.

Two players were absent from the defending European champions Real Madrid for the second leg at Vicente Calderon Stadium. Daniel Carvajal and Wales international Gareth Bale will be out due to hamstring and calf injury respectively. Zinedine Zidane replaced them with Danilo and Isco respectively.

Real Madrid | S-XI: Navas (GK), Marcelo, Sergio Ramos (C), Varane, Danilo, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema. Substitutes: Francisco Casilla (GK), Nacho, Kovacic, Lucas Vazquez, Asensio, Morata, James.

FIRST HALF
Host team, Atletico Madrid, opened the first very strong by putting pressure on Real Madrid’s goal. Keylor Navas, the Real Madrid goalkeeper, was forced to make several important saves. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco’s shot deflected off target for a corner-kick. Saul Niguez scored the opening goal with a header in the 12th minute after a well-taken corner-kick by Koke. The opening goal gave Atletico Madrid a huge confidence boost as they kept putting pressure on the Real Madrid goal. This resulted in Raphael Varane to commit a foul on Fernando Torres in the 15th minute inside their own penalty box. The Turkish referee blew penalty for Atletico Madrid. France international Antoine Griezmann scored from the penalty spot, increasing Atletico Madrid’s lead in the 16th minute. Nevertheless, Isco silenced the home fans by scoring the vital away-goal in the 42nd minute after a defensive error by the Atletico Madrid defence. The first half ended Atletico Madrid 2, Real Madrid 1 (aggregate: 2 – 4).

SECOND HALF
Real Madrid started the second half being defensively compact and disciplined, frustrating Atletico Madrid who had two score three goals in order to reach the final. Atletico Madrid fought very had but they were unfortunate to not convert their chances into goals. The second half and the match ended Atletico Madrid 2, Real Madrid 1 (aggregate: 2 – 4).

CONCLUSION
It was a highly entertaining and intensive match as Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid on a four-two aggregate to reach the 2017 UEFA Champions League Final in Cardiff. Atletico Madrid opened the first half very well with two quick goals and they were solid throughout the entire match. A defensive error by Atletico Madrid punished them but they put up an amazing fight and can hold their heads high. Zinedine Zidane’s arrival to Real Madrid has brought stability to the club and his side is more solid and effective in their attacks. He has brought harmony to the club and the results are seen on the pitch. Thus, the better team reached the final in the end.

NEXT MATCH
The defending European champions Real Madrid will face Juventus in the Final of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League in Cardiff on Saturday June 3, 2017 at 20:45 CET.

PLAYER RATINGS
Atletico Madrid: Oblak – 3.5/5, Godin 3/5, Savic – 3/5, Gimenez – 2.5/5, Filipe Luis – 3.5/5, Koke – 3.5/5, Saul – 4/5, Carrasco – 2/5, Gabi – 3/5, Griezmann – 3.5/5, Torres – 2/5. | Substitutes: Gameiro – 3/5, Thomas – 3/5, Correa – 2.5/5.

Real Madrid: Navas – 3/5, Marcelo 3/5, Sergio Ramos – 3/5, Varane – 2/5, Danilo – 2/5, Casemiro – 3/5, Kroos – 3/5, Modric – 3/5, Isco – 3.5/5, Ronaldo – 3/5, Benzema – 2/5. | Substitutes: Asensio – 3/5, Lucas Vazquez – 3/5, Morata – 3/5.

MAN OF THE MATCH
Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid)

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