Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Following Real Madrid’s 4-1 win over Juventus to win a third Champions League crown in four years, AFP Sport looks at who were the Tops and Flops on the night in Cardiff.
– Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
The Portuguese maestro bagged a brace to leapfrog Lionel Messi as top scorer in this season’s Champions League — to earn that accolade for the fifth season in a row. He likewise became the first player in the Champions League era to score in three finals having netted for Manchester United against Chelsea 2008 and put the cherry on the cake in Real’s 4-1 win after extra time against neighbours Atletico Madrid in 2014. He finished off a slick Real move with a crisp, low finish on 20 minutes after good work from Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal. And on 64 minutes he stole between Juve centre-backs Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci to flick home Luka Modric’s cross to put the tie beyond the Italians.
– Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)
The Croatian forward is another to have scored in a previous Champions League final, finding the net for Bayern Munich in their 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley in 2013. But this one was special as he took a chipped pass from Gonzalo Higuain on his chest and looped an overhead kick beyond the despairing dive of Keylor Navas for one of the great Champions League final goals.
– Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
A constant classy presence in midfield alongside the equally excellent Toni Kroos. Between them they controlled the midfield and allowed Real to dominate the ball. Modric even got forward on 64 minutes to pull back what seemed a lost cause from the byline for Ronaldo to kill the game.
– Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)
He didn’t have a huge amount to do and he was beaten by Mandzukic’s stunning overhead volley. But the Costa Rican stopper had earlier made a brilliant and crucial diving save to deny Miralem Pjanic with the score 0-0.
– Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
This was supposed to be the chance for the veteran Italy goalkeeper to bow out on a high by finally landing the Champions League crown after two previous final defeats. He’s had a great season and Juve’s defence has been impressive but Buffon had no impact on this match. In truth he could do little about the first two goals that both took cruel deflections, while it was his centre-backs at fault for the third. But whether he was to blame or not, the goalkeeping great failed to make a positive difference.
– Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
Take your pick between Bonucci and his centre-back partner Chiellini. Neither was on top of his game having been so rock solid over two legs against both Barcelona and Monaco. Between them they gave Ronaldo too much time and space to score the opener while they were both guilty of ball-watching when the Portuguese great stole between them to notch his second. They were run ragged but none of Juve’s defenders came out of the match with any credit.
– Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus)
Coming up against his former employers, much was expected of the Argentina forward. But barring a nice cushioned touch to set up Mandzukic’s goal, he was too often anonymous. Higuain cannot have lacked motivation but he simply failed to produce the big performance he and his team were hoping for.
– Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)
One of the worst cameos in Champions League final history. The Colombian was only introduced as a 66th minute substitute but within 18 minutes he had picked up two bookings and been sent for an early bath. In truth the second yellow was a touch harsh as Sergio Ramos made a meal of little contact, but there was no denying Cuadrado’s recklessness.
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