Ronaldo saved Real from Champions League defeat. Photo: AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo rescued Real Madrid from a shock Champions League exit as his injury-time penalty allowed the holders to edge out Juventus in the most dramatic of quarter-finals on Wednesday, taking them through despite a 3-1 defeat.
Real had looked certain to make the last four following last week's 3-0 first-leg victory in Turin, but Juve staged a sensational comeback in the return at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Mario Mandzukic's two first-half headers kept the dream alive before Blaise Matuidi capitalised on a Keylor Navas error to pull the Italians level with half an hour left.
But, just as a thrilling second leg looked to be heading for extra time, English referee Michael Oliver awarded Real a penalty in stoppage time.
With the game in the 97th minute, Ronaldo made no mistake from 12 yards, ensuring a 3-1 defeat on the night but a 4-3 win on aggregate.
Gianluigi Buffon, making his 125th and perhaps final Champions League appearance before retirement, was sent off for his protests. If it is to be the 40-year-old's European farewell, it was a sad way to end.
On Wednesday morning, Madrid newspaper Marca had revelled in Barcelona's collapse against Roma the night before with the headline 'Total Failure', but Zinedine Zidane's side came within a whisker of trumping that with an emphatic loss on their own patch.
Real conceded the opener after just 76 seconds, the fastest they have ever conceded at home in the Champions League.
But Ronaldo came up trumps again, scoring in his 11th consecutive fixture in this competition, extending his own record, and keeping Real on course for a third consecutive European triumph.
Zidane had handed Gareth Bale his first Champions League start since September but this was far from a night of redemption for the Welshman. He was hauled off at half-time, with Real two down, and replaced by Marco Asensio.
Edin Dzeko needed six minutes to set Roma on their way against Barcelona, but Juve needed just over one.
Sami Khedira hung a deep cross to the back post where Mandzukic powered a header past Navas.
His second, eight minutes before half-time, was almost a carbon copy. This time it was substitute Stephan Lichtsteiner, on for Mattia De Sciglio, who was given too much space by Marcelo to cross. Again Mandzukic jumped higher than Dani Carvajal as he nodded between Navas' right hand and the near post.
In between, Real had dictated possession and created chances of their own, but Buffon was in imperious form. Just after Mandzukic got his second goal, Raphael Varane rattled the crossbar with a header to which Buffon got his fingertips.
Real, though, were shaky at the back, the channel between Marcelo and 21-year-old Jesus Vallejo regularly offering Juve hope.
Bale's night was up at half-time as he and Casemiro were replaced by Zidane's tried-and-trusted duo in Europe of Vazquez and Asensio.
However, Real's defensive problems were exposed again on the hour.
Douglas Costa crossed from the right but Navas dropped the ball, allowing Matuidi to stab home and level the tie.
Isco drove towards the bottom corner but Buffon's hand was there and the game looked to be drifting towards extra-time until the 93rd minute.
Hanging in the air at the back post, Ronaldo nodded down to Vazquez who looked certain to score from five yards before Medhi Benatia desperately challenged him from behind.
Oliver pointed to the spot much and in the ensuing chaos, Buffon was sent off for his protests.
Wojciech Szczesny came on to face the decisive strike of the game. Ronaldo exhaled and slammed it into the top right-hand corner to take Real into the semi-finals.
By AFP's Thomas Allnutt
Sitges Mayor among others arrested in police investigation of alleged corruption
Aurora Carbonell, the mayor of Sitges and from the ERC party, has been arrested in connection with an alleged corruption investigation, that has also implicated 12 other people, including eight local councillors from the period 2017-2022.
At least four people have been arrested as part of the case, including the local ERC councillor Jaume Monasterio, who was responsible for public works in the last legislature.
The group are being investigated for the crimes of misuse of public funds, embezzlement, and falsification of documents in the awarding of grants and minor contracts in the previous two mandates.
The Spanish National Police and officers of their Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF) carried out several searches on Wednesday morning in Sitges, including municipal offices and the homes of two people. The investigation is focused into the process of subsidies granted by the Sitges Town Council to the social entity ‘Taula del Tercer Sector’ (Third Sector Board) and another local co-operative. The police seized documents relating to the entities under investigation.
According to local sources, the police would be investigating, among other elements, if the entity was paid twice for the same service, or received a subsidy and a minor contract, for example.
According to El Pais, police sources have said that the investigation affects the local departments of Beaches and Social Welfare. The police are analysing various specific grants, some of €45,000, €100,000 and €120,000, among others, which may have allegedly gone to the entities under suspicion. According to reports, the total sum under investigation is €600,000.
The starting point of the case stems from a police report detailing the alleged irregularities in May 2022, discovered by the council’s own inspectors.
Carbonell, who was recently re-elected as mayor, has been mayor of Sitges since 2019. The court has ordered for Carbonell and eight councillors to be investigated, in addition to four others who were part of one of the entities and cooperatves also under investigation. The period of alleged corruption is over four years, and also affects the government team prior to Carbonell, according to reports, under the leadership of Miquel Forns (CiU).
The Sitges Town Council has since issued a statement to say that the investigation is connected to ‘external irregularities’ and that it denies any type of wrongdoing.
‘The facts under investigation had already been analysed internally,’ the statement read. ‘The Town Council, once possible external irregularities were detected, commissioned legal professionals to clarify the facts, stopping the subsidies, reviewing the files and starting the process for the return of the subsidies that were not fully justified. The Council has reports that ensure the absence of administrative and even less criminal responsibilities, and which demonstrate the diligence of the Sitges Town Council.’
The statement went on to say that the council ‘is a transparent institution, which has a rigorous code of ethics that ensures the highest standards of integrity’.
It said that it would be making itself ‘available to the authorities in order to show our full collaboration in whatever is necessary’ and ‘reiterates our willingness to cooperate with justice at all times’.
Spain’s far-right Vox seek to make gains in 28 May local and regional elections
Spain’s third largest political group in the national parliament, the far-right Vox party, is looking to make gains in the local and regional elections due to be held across the country on 28 May.
Since it entered a regional government for the first time in Castilla y León last year, Vox has attacked the unions and pushed polarising positions on social issues, including abortion and transgender rights.
It is now poised to spread its influence beyond the sparsely populated region near Madrid, with the party hoping to make gains in the elections at the end of May.
Surveys suggest the main opposition, the right-wing People’s Party (PP), could need the support of Vox to govern in half of the 12 regions casting ballots, just as it did in Castilla y León last year.
Polls also indicate the PP is on track to win a year-end general election but would need Vox to form a working majority and oust socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his coalition government from office.
Vox leader Santiago Abascal [pictured at a recent rally in Chinchón, near Madrid] has called the PP-VOX coalition government in office in Castilla y León since March 2022 a ‘showroom’ and ‘an example of the alternative Spain needs’.
It is Spain’s first government to include a far-right party since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.
In Castilla y León, Vox has slashed funding to unions, which the party has vowed to ‘put in their place’ if it comes to power nationally. Trade union UGT was forced to lay off 40% of its staff in Castilla y León last month and scale back programmes to promote workspace safety. Spain’s other main union, the CCOO, is reportedly preparing to follow suit.
Vox has also angered LGBTQ groups by refusing to allow the regional parliament to be lit up in the colours of the rainbow, the symbol of the gay rights movement, for Pride festivities as in past years when the PP governed alone.
In addition, the regional vice-president, Vox’s Juan García-Gallardo, has railed against a law passed by Spain’s leftist central government that extends transgender rights.
The 32-year-old lawyer warned earlier this month that women would now be ‘forced to share locker rooms with hairy men at municipal swimming pools’.
Vox’s most contested initiative was a proposal that doctors offer women seeking an abortion a 4D ultrasound scan to try to discourage them from going ahead with the procedure.
The idea was swiftly condemned by Spain’s leftist central government, and Castilla y León’s PP president Alfonso Fernández Mañueco stopped the measure from going ahead.
The issue highlighted the hazards for the PP of joining forces with Vox, which was launched in 2013 and is now the third-largest party in the national parliament.
Spain – Gas falls below 90 euros per MWh for the first time in almost two months
The price of TTF natural gas for delivery next month has fallen below 90 euros on Friday for the first time in almost two months and closes a week marked by the decision of the European Commission to cap gas with a drop of 29, 36%.
According to data from the Bloomberg platform, gas closed this Friday at 83 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh), 8.9% less than the day before and the first time it has lost 90 euros since last October 31.
After months of negotiations, the EU agreed on Monday to set a cap of 180 euros on contracts linked to the Amsterdam TTF index with a price difference of at least 35 euros above the average price of liquefied natural gas in the markets.
EU countries agree on a cap of 180 euros for gas with the support of Germany
In a report this week, the Swiss investment bank Julius Baer indicated that the chances of the mechanism being activated are low and pointed out that the chosen formula was not very effective in avoiding the multiplier effect that gas has on the price of electricity. However, he reiterated what was said in other previous reports: “Energy supply risks are minimal and prices should continue to decline in the future” due to the availability of raw materials from Asia to offset cuts from Russia.
Gas tends to fall during the hot months due to lower demand, but this summer it has reached historic heights as European countries were buying to face the winter with their tanks full and reduce their dependence on Russia. The price fell in September and October due to lower demand once the warehouses were full due to the high temperatures at the beginning of autumn, but in November it picked up again and 66% more expensive.
This article was originally published on Público
Australia4 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Australia4 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Europe3 years ago
Covid: Flights shut down as EU discusses UK virus threat
Europe3 years ago
Post-Brexit trade: Is red tape chaos just ‘teething trouble’ as the UK government argues?
Tech3 years ago
Search engine startup asks users to be the customer, not the product
Health3 years ago
Spain ‘to register’ those who refuse to have Covid-19 vaccine
Tech2 years ago
Sign up to The Independent’s free cryptocurrency expert panel event
US3 years ago
Send a birthday card to the oldest living WWII veteran in the US as he turns 111