Late goal puts Real Madrid into semifinal
A late goal from Real Madrid striker Javier Hernandez qualified Real Madrid for the semifinal of the Champions League as they defeated neighbours Atletico 1-0 in th second leg of the tie. Courtesy of the Hernandez’s goal, Real Madrid won the tie 1-0 on aggregate on Wednesday.
The Mexican striker, who was only playing because forward Karim Benzema was injured, sidefooted home from close range after being set up by striker Cristiano Ronaldo with less than four minute before the game went into extra time. The goal was deserved by Real Madrid, who defeated Atletico for the first time in eight meetings this season, but who dominated the proceedings over the 180 minutes of the tie.
Both coaches had surprises in their starting 11 with Real boss Carlo Ancelotti playing Rafael Varane and Pepe in central defence and pushing Sergio Ramos into midfield in preference to specialist midfielders such as Asier Illaramendi and Lucas Silva.
That meant Ancelotti changed his usual tactic of playing 4-3-3 for a 4-4-2 to try and outnumber Atletico in the middle of the pitch, while Saul instead of Gabi Fernandez was Atletico coach Diego Simeone’s surprise choice. The first half saw Real dominate the ball against a rival that had striker Mario Mandzukic isolated in attack and Hernandez had their first decent chance after 11 minutes, but screwed the ball into the side netting.
The game changed after 75 minutes when midfielder Arda Turan was shown a second yellow card for a high challenge against Ramos to leave Atletico down to 10 men.
Real took a step forward and Oblak produced a brilliant save to deny Hernandez with 10 minutes remaining, but he could do nothing to deny the Mexican seven minutes later as the fringe player became the hero of the night.