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Hernandez sends Real into CL semis

JAVIER HERNANDEZMADRID, April 22 – 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.

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.

Madrid came into the game ravaged by injuries and suspensions as Marcelo, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema missed out forcing coach Carlo Ancelotti to deploy Sergio Ramos in an unusual midfield position.

The hosts still had by far the better of the first 45 minutes with Benzema’s replacement Hernandez smashing into the side-netting with the first opening of the game.

Ronaldo then pulled a shot wide from 20 yards on his weaker left foot, but Atletico grew into the game as the half went on and Turan tested Iker Casillas with a long-range effort that the Spanish captain comfortably handled.

However, it was Real who ended the half the stronger 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.

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Atletico boss Diego 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.

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