Zinedine Zidane watched his Real Madrid side get off to a woeful start in last night’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid, but it didn’t matter in the end.
Leading 3-0 from the first meeting, Los Blancos found themselves 2-0 down within 16 minutes and facing the possibility of a seriously humiliating collapse.
But Atleti’s hard work was undone moments before half-time when Isco scored following impressive work on the left by Karim Benzema. The Spaniard’s goal left the home side needing to score three goals in the second half; they managed none.
And so it will be Real who take on Juventus in next month’s final in Cardiff. The Spaniards are seeking to become the first team to retain the Champions League trophy, while Juve are seeking redemption for their 2015 loss to Barcelona.
It promises to be an enthralling encounter.
For Atleti, it’s another Champions League campaign that has been ended by their rivals.
Real have overcome Los Rojiblancos in Europe’s elite competition in each of the past four seasons – in the final in 2014 and 2016, in the quarter-final in 2015 and in this season’s semi-final.
It’s a credit to Atleti that they’ve been so good in the tournament, but Diego Simeone must be sick of the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo and co.
Real Madrid defender Nacho celebrated Wednesday night’s win by placing a Madrid flag on the Vicente Calderon turf, much like how Koke had placed an Atleti flag on the Bernabeu pitch after the Copa del Rey final in 2013.
But Nacho wasn’t seeking revenge. He has insisted his act was innocent and only intended for the travelling Real supporters.
“I did it for the Madridistas, because they deserved it for having come to support us,” the 27-year-old said, via Marca. “Not to offend anyone.”
Atleti supporters were too busy ripping out the seats at the Vicente Calderon to care, but Nacho’s action probably irked a few of Atleti’s players following what was a heated affair.
Even Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres got into a spat during the contest.
“What’s wrong?” Torres asked Ronaldo, according to Marca. “Clown.”
The Portuguese star responded: “Go home, idiot,” before Torres responded by calling him a “son of a b***h.”
No prizes for guessing which team Atletico will be supporting on June 3.