For a brief moment, there was stunned silence. It felt as if nobody could comprehend what they had witnessed. Then the applause broke out. It came from all sides of this boisterous arena. In great blocks, the Juventus supporters rose to their feet. It was to recognise sporting genius and it did not matter to them that it had come from a rival.
Cristiano Ronaldo had put Real Madrid in control of this Champions League quarter-final with an early close-range finish. He now had them in sight of the next stage and, even by his exulted standards, it was a jaw-dropping intervention.
When Dani Carvajal stood up a cross from the right, Ronaldo instinctively knew that the overhead kick was on. He leapt, hung at high altitude and stretched before swivelling his hips and working a right-footed masterpiece beyond Gianluigi Buffon from behind the penalty spot. The crowd’s reaction was almost as beautiful. When does this ever happen? In the heat of the moment, it felt unique.
Ronaldo’s numbers are freakish and, at the age of 33, they show no sign of letting up. He has 25 goals in his last 14 games for club and country. He has scored in every Champions League tie this season and he leads the field for the competition’s Golden Boot with 14. Something seems to stir inside him when he hears the aria.
Yet the goals cannot be measured by volume alone. Ronaldo has scored plenty of classics. But in a high-stakes game has he ever scored a better one? “It is one of the most beautiful goals in the history of the game,” said the Real manager, Zinedine Zidane.
Juventus were broken. Paulo Dybala, the Serie A club’s great hope, was sent off for a high boot on Carvajal, having previously been booked for diving and, when Ronaldo ushered in Marcelo for Real’s third, it was all over.