Juventus turned to the man who has caused them – and so many others – so much heartache and a man who is never far away from the trophy.
Just look at Real Madrid without him. Stunned by Ajax. But for Juventus, they are profiting immensely. Having fallen flat in Madrid, there was never a worry he would miss the mark again.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Juventus: Szczesny, Joao Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola (Dybala 67), Can, Pjanic, Matuidi, Bernardeschi, Mandzukic (Kean 80), Ronaldo
Subs not used: Perin, Caceres, Rugani, Bentancur, Nicolussi Caviglia
Goalscorers: Ronaldo 27, 49, 86
Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Arias (Vitolo 77), Godin, Gimenez, Juanfran, Griezmann, Saul, Rodri, Koke, Lemar (Correa 57), Morata
Subs not used: Adan, Kalinic, Savic, Carro, Montero
Booked: Juanfran, Gimenez, Vitolo
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
There was VAR drama. Goal-line technology was called into action and the final nail in the coffin came from the penalty spot. But in the end this is what he predicted. Ronaldo told us all he would score a hat-trick and he did. His finest moment in a Juventus shirt came at the most important moment.
Juventus started like a squad possessed. The club’s ultras, housed in their Curva Sud stand behind the goal they attacked in the first half, cancelled their planned protest to ensure a sell-out for the visit of Atletico. A cacophony of noise every time Juventus had the ball. A chorus of boos with every Atletico touch.
It was almost the dream start. The home support knew how important an early goal would be and 30 seconds in a jinking run from Blaise Matuidi saw him fizz in a low cross, only for Mario Mandzukic to see his effort deflected away.
It was a sign of things to come and three minutes later Juventus thought they had cracked Atletico. But VAR begged to differ. Ronaldo stretched to win a loose ball in a tussle with Jan Oblak, it squeezed free and Giorgio Chiellini, making his 500th appearance for Juventus, converted.
There was no on-screen review but the decision was made. No goal. The comeback, for the time being, was still to get going.