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Champions League Roundup: Man United Reject Fires Real Madrid Into Semi-Finals

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MANCHESTER United reject Javier Hernandez came to the rescue for Real Madrid, as the Mexican’s 88th minute goal sent Los Blancos into the Champions League semi-finals with a 1-0 victory over ten-man derby rivals Atletico.

In a tetchy encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the hosts enjoyed the better chances but, having drawn the first leg 0-0, again found the Atletico defences stubborn to break down.

Real hadn’t tasted victory against their cross-town rivals since beating them in the final to lift the European crown last season and they were frustrated throughout a turgid first half which saw only one clear cut chance.

That fell to Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Portugal star failed to make the most of his one-on-one effort as he sidefooted a tame shot straight at Jan Oblak, who did react well to parry at point-blank range.

It’s often handbags at dawn in these heated clashes, and it didn’t take long for the unsavoury nudges and barges to begin creeping in to play, with Sergio Ramos the target – though he’s often the instigator as well – of a number of rash challenges, while Ronaldo was guilty of smashing Jesus Gamez in the face with a strong shoulder when competing for a high ball.

Theatrics continued after the break, with the game predictably stop-start in nature as a result, but it was Real who carved out the better chances as they began to turn the screw.

Hernandez fired wide from a good position following a great through-ball from Isco, while Raphael Varane and Ramos both had tame headers easily saved from decent openings in the box.

The game opened up when Diego Simeone’s side found themselves a man down when Arda Turan was sent off with a second booking for a high challenge on Ramos, which gave Carlo Ancelloti’s men a much needed advantage.

Extra-time seemed imminent as the full-time whistle crept nearer and nearer, but Atletico’s long resistance was finally ended late on.

After playing a neat one-two with James Rodriguez, Ronaldo burst into the area and did well to pick out the unmarked Hernandez instead of shooting, with the Mexican slotting the ball through a crowded box and into an empty net to seal Real’s first Madrid derby win of the season and their progression to the last four.

Juventus will join the Spanish giants, along with Tuesday’s victors Barcelona and Bayern Munich, will in Friday’s semi-final draw after playing out a goalless draw with Monaco, beating the French side 1-0 on aggregate thanks to Carlos Teves’ first leg goal. – talkSport

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