Familiar face boosts Real’s bid to snatch Euro prestige

Ross McLean
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Real will feature in tomorrow’s semi-final draw after a late strike from Javier Hernandez
ON-LOAN Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez scored Real Madrid’s late winner to settle a tension-filled Champions League quarter final as the holders maintained hopes of retaining their European crown with victory over city rivals Atletico last night.

The tie was seemingly heading to extra-time after a goalless first leg last week until Hernandez converted a square ball from Cristiano Ronaldo to ensure former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti’s side will feature in tomorrow’s semi-final draw.

Real, who overwhelmed Diego Simeone’s Atletico in extra-time in Lisbon last May to lift the trophy for a 10th time, are biddling to become the first side to successfully defend their Champions League title. AC Milan were the last team to retain Europe’s premier club competition in 1990, although the tournament was in its former guise of the European Cup.

Reigning Spanish champions Atletico stifled Real for the majority of the match only for proceedings to open up following the dismissal of Arda Turan with quarter of an hour remaining after a second yellow for a high challenge on Sergio Ramos.

Real had failed to beat Atletico in seven previous derbies this term but amended that statistic courtesy of Hernandez in the 88th minute, who tapped home from close range following Ronaldo’s intervention.

Mexico forward Hernandez had threatened to break the deadlock four minutes after half time but screwed wide of the post having latched onto an incisive through ball from Isco.

Atletico’s Slovenian keeper Jan Oblak had denied Gareth Bale in the first leg and produced a very similar save to thwart Real moments before the break, springing from his line to spurn Ronaldo.

Real’s victory maintains the opportunity of an all-Spanish last four clash after Barcelona eased through against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night, while Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich also wait in the wings.

Treble-chasing Juventus complete the semi-final draw after a goalless draw in Monaco gave the runaway Serie A leaders a 1-0 aggregate victory over the Ligue 1 outfit, following Arturo Vidal’s decisive penalty in the first leg.

The Old Lady, who last won the Champions League in 1996, reached the semi-final stage for the first time in 12 years and are the only Italian side to make the last four since 2010.

Juventus enjoy a 15-point cushion at the summit of their domestic league, giving plenty of latitude to rest players and prioritise the ending of their 19-year wait for the Champions League trophy, as well as an Italian Cup final date with Lazio.