CL: Hernandez sends Real into semis at Atletico's expense
Javier Hernandez scored the winner two minutes from time as Real Madrid once again shattered Atletico Madrid's Champions League dreams with a 1-0 win on aggregate to progress to the semi-finals
Madrid: Javier Hernandez scored the winner two minutes from time as Real Madrid once again shattered Atletico Madrid's Champions League dreams with a 1-0 win on aggregate to progress to the semi-finals.
Real Madrid's Mexican forward Javier Hernandez celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals second leg football match Real Madrid CF vs Club Atletico de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. Pic/AFP
The tie was a repeat of last season's final, won by Real 4-1 after extra-time, but Atletico had gone unbeaten in seven previous meetings against their city rivals this season. However, the visitors had to play the final 14 minutes with 10 men as Arda Turan was shown a second yellow card and Hernandez finally broke the deadlock over the two legs when he slotted into an empty net from Cristiano Ronaldo's pass.
"Obviously it is my most important goal because the present is what is important," said Hernandez. "It is a derby which hasn't brought good memories since winning the 10th European Cup. I was the one who scored, but it belongs to everyone. The people who believed in me, my teammates and my family." Real boss Carlo Ancelotti praised Hernandez's attitude having barely been involved this season until Karim Benzema suffered a knee injury in the first-leg.
"Hernandez played very well, he played with a lot of desire. He has suffered a lot this season, he has played very little but he never gave up. "In the difficult moments he continued to train well and that has paid off for him in the end." Despite being dealt another bitter blow by their city rivals, Atletico boss Diego Simeone hailed his players efforts as they once again made a side with five times Atletico's budget sweat.
"I go away proud of my team. Once more we competed very well in a very difficult competition like the Champions League," said the Argentine. "Competing as we did today, I have sure I have a team of men, a team that work hard. At times we can play better or worse, but I am so proud of the players and to be the coach of these guys who gave what they gave today."
Madrid came into the game ravaged by injuries and suspensions as Marcelo, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Benzema missed out forcing coach Ancelotti to deploy Sergio Ramos in an unusual midfield position. The hosts still had by far the better of the first 45 minutes as only great defending from Juanfran denied Hernandez at the back post before Jan Oblak did well to parry Ronaldo's dipping free-kick to safety.
The best chance of the half fell to the World Player of the Year when Ronaldo was fed by James Rodriguez, but Oblak scampered from his goal to block in a similar manner to his vital save from Bale at the beginning of the first-leg. It was the hosts who again started on the front foot at the start of the second period as a sensational through ball from Isco played Hernandez in behind the Atletico defence, but the Manchester United loanee again failed to hit the target as his shot squirmed just wide of the far post.
Simeone then surprisingly withdrew top scorer Antoine Griezmann. However the visitors soon had their clearest opening of the night when Gabi's dinked cross picked out the run of Koke from midfield, only to see his header easily clutched by Casillas.
Arguably the decisive moment in the tie came 14 minutes from time when Turan was shown a second yellow for a high challenge on Ramos. Moments later Oblak came to his side's rescue again when he turned Hernandez's effort wide after he spun away from Diego Godin. Hernandez finally got the all-important goal after brilliant work from Rodriguez and Ronaldo left the Mexican with the simplest of finishes from close range.