Not once, but twice Cristiano Ronaldo leapt, twisted, and landed with both arms thrust downward as if he were driving a flag into conquered terrain at the Camp Nou.
Ronaldo celebrated after scoring two penalties to lead Juventus to a 3-0 win at Barcelona on Tuesday, one-upping Lionel Messi in the renewal of the head-to-head matchup between the two greatest players of their generation.
No team that had come to play at Messi's Barcelona had left with a victory in over seven years in the Champions League.
The commanding win in the last game of the group phase let Juventus clinch first place in Group G on a better head-to-head record with Barcelona after both finished level on 15 points. Both teams had already comfortably qualified for the next stage prior to the match.
With Ronaldo 35 and Messi 33 years old, both stars played like this could be the last time they face off in their illustrious rivalry that enthralled Spain for nearly a decade before Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Serie A in 2018.
Messi and Ronaldo briefly embraced with one arm behind each other’s back and exchanged a few words before kickoff at stadium that remains empty because of coronavirus restrictions.
While Ronaldo benefited from errors by Barcelona’s defense, Messi was left to carry the workload for the frustrated hosts. The Argentina forward was unable to beat Gianluigi Buffon on his five shots on target.
MAN UTD KNOCKED OUT
Manchester United were beaten by Leipzig and dropped to third place in Group H — tied for points with PSG, regardless of its result against Basaksehir, but behind the French team courtesy of an inferior head-to-head record.
In a result that weakens Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position as manager and further damages United’s financial state amid a pandemic, his team made a customary slow start and was 2-0 down after 13 minutes. When Justin Kluivert added a third in the 69th, Leipzig looked certain of advancing but United pulled goals back through Bruno Fernandes in the 80th and Paul Pogba in the 82nd.
A draw would have been good enough for United to progress — Solskjaer’s team beat Leipzig 5-0 in the first game between the sides — and there was drama in the final seconds when Leipzig goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi showed great reflexes to prevent an own-goal by Nordi Mukiele.
“We didn’t perform as a team well enough and that’s always the manager’s responsibility, to get everyone ready,” Solskjaer said.
“We just didn’t turn up until they scored the second goal."
Chelsea finished the group stage unbeaten after a weakened team drew 1-1 with Krasnodar at home.
Chelsea coach Frank Lampard fielded a virtual second-string lineup because his team had already qualified for the knockout stage as Group E winner, while Krasnodar knew it would finish third and play in the Europa League.
Sevilla, which was assured of second place, beat already-eliminated Rennes 3-1.