TURIN: Three years ago Juventus spent €100m on Cristiano Ronaldo in the belief that he would do for them what he had achieved for Real Madrid in dominating the UEFA Champions League.
That expensive gamble has proved a highly costly failure yet again after the Italian champions were edged out by Porto in their second round second leg in Turin.
Juve won a thriller 3-2 but lost on away goals with the aggregate balanced at 4-4.
Porto opened up a 3-1 aggregate lead through a Sergio Oliveira penalty in the 20th minute after Merih Demiral brought down Porto’s Mehdi Taremi. Juventus’ Federico Chiesa levelled in the 49th minute before Taremi was shown a second yellow card for kicking the ball away.
Chiesa then headed in a Juan Cuadrado cross after 63 minutes to level the tie on aggregate.
In extra time Juventus appeared poised to capitalise on their one-man advantage but a long-range free kick from Oliveira in the 115th minite skidded through the legs of Cristiano Ronaldo to make it 2-2 on the night and give Porto the lead over two legs. .
Adrien Rabiot’s header two minutes later gave Juventus hope, only for Porto goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin to produce a stunning save in the final moments to ensure the Portuguese champions advanced on away goals.
Defeat will inevitably spark speculation about the future of trainer Andrea Pirlo and the decision of president Andrea Agnelli to appoint a fine player but novice coach last summer.
Pirlo said: “I’ve been called here at Juventus because it’s the beginning of a new project, looking at the future and for several years. I continue calmly with my work.”
In Germany, the insatiable Erling Braut Haaland scored his 19th and 20th goals in his 14th Champions League appearances as Borussia Dortmund drew 2-2 with Sevilla to progress to the quarter-finals 5-4 on aggregate.
The 20-year-old striker opened the scoring on 35 minutes with what was his only touch in the opposition’s box in the first half, Marco Reus’ pull-back finding the Norwegian for an easy tap-in past goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
Early in the second half, Haaland bullied his way past the Sevilla defence to find the net from a tight angle only to have the goal ruled out for a foul. But the video assistant referee then awarded a penalty for an earlier shirt-pull by Jules Kounde.
The Norwegian took the spot-kick himself and saw both his first attempt and his follow-up saved by Bounou.
The spectacle did not end there, however, as VAR determined Bounou had moved too early off his line and the penalty was taken again, with Haaland finally slotting home to give Dortmund a 5-2 advantage in the tie.
Sevilla kept their hopes alive through a Youssef En-Nesyri penalty, before the same man’s powerful header deep in added time made the final moments nervy for the Bundesliga side.
Haaland – who scored twice against Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga at the weekend – has now scored twice in each of his past four Champions League appearances, becoming the first player to score two or more goals in four consecutive games in the competition.
No player has scored more goals than Haaland in the competition since he made his debut in September 2019. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski has 19 in that time.
With goal number 20 secured in tonight’s win over Sevilla, Haaland also takes the honour of being the player to score the most Champions League goals before turning 21.
Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe previously held the record with 19.
It is also the quickest a player has ever reached 20 goals in the competition, and in 10 fewer appearances than the previous record holder, Tottenham striker Harry Kane.
Haaland also surpasses Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the top-scoring Norwegian in the Champions League. All told this season he has scored 32 goals in 30 games.