Javier Hernandez scored a crucial match-winner as Real Madrid finally secured their first win in eight matches against Atletico Madrid to advance into the semi-final of the Uefa Champions League.
The Manchester United loanee tapped home Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass from close range to send the current holders through to Friday afternoon last-four draw in Nyon, Switzerland.
Atleti ended the match with ten men after Arda Turan received his second booking for a tackle on Sergio Ramos in the 76th minute.
The reigning Spanish champions have now suffered late defeats at the mercy of their city rivals twice in consecutive seasons in the Champions League, following last year’s final loss in Lisbon.
The face-off was evenly-poised coming into Wednesday’s decider at the Santiago Bernebeu after last week’s goalless draw at Atletico.
The match was headed for extra time until the visitors’ resilience was finally broken, with Ronaldo surging into the Los Roji Blancos area after trading a link-up pass with James Rodriguez before laying off for Chicharito, who slid in for his first Champions League goal in 895 days.
The hosts were without the services of three of their team members in Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, but the rest of the squad ensured they got the better of Diego Simeone’s men who have largely dominated the Madrid Derby this season.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side asked questions of their own early into proceedings with Rodriguez playing in Chicharito down the right only for the Mexican- standing in for Benzema- to aim wide from an acute angle.
Atletico came close to getting an opening goal in the 15th minute as Koke’s improvised volley sailed above the crossbar after a poor Iker Casillas clearance. Jesus Gamez was next to force the Spain veteran into a superb save while Atleti sought to break the hearts of the home crowd.
The momentum pendulum again swung in favour of Real, with Hernandez’s header deflected behind and goalkeeper Jan Oblak diverting Ronaldo’s free-kick before blocking the Portuguese’s shot in the 44th minute.
Isco- filling the vacuum left by Luka Modric’s absence- sent a defence splitting pass into the Atletico territory early in the second half but Hernandez was once more guilty of not keeping his effort within target. Slovenia international goalkeeper Oblak had to deal with a Varane and Ramos headers again to keep the champs’ offensive in check.
Arda’s second yellow card 14 minutes from time gifted Real the numerical advantage, which they took some 11 minutes later.
Madrid are through to the last four 1-0 on aggregate scores for a fifth year in a row and will continue in their bid to become the first side to retain the European Cup in the Champions League era.
Casillas also equaled Edwin van der Sar’s record of 50 Champions League clean sheets in this one.