Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was eager to hail match-winner Javier Hernandez after the on-loan Manchester United striker fired his team into the Champions League semi-finals.
The Italian has rarely selected Hernandez this season, preferring to stick with his much-heralded ‘BBC’ strike force of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
But with Benzema and Bale both injured, Ancelotti decided to plump for the Mexican frontman, who was making only his seventh start for Los Blancos in all competitions.
And Hernandez didn’t disappoint, looking sharp and scoring the only goal of the match against Atletico, delighting his manager who said: “You have to congratulate
him because he’s had a tough season and not played much. We knew he would be important.”
Ancelotti also explained that his gamble to play Sergio Ramos in the centre of midfield was a decision he reached as soon as he knew that Luka Modric would be unavailable.
“When Modric was injured, we decided that Ramos would play in midfield. We planned a good game with a good strategy and we followed it until the end,” he added.
And he felt his team were worthy winners, adding: “Everything went well, the team was plugged in. We played against a very strong opponent who I greatly respect. They work very hard defensively.”
Hernandez was understandably delighted to make such a decisive contribution after failing to make much impact over the previous months.
He said: “I was patient, and my team-mates and my family believed in me. This goal is for them. The goal came to me, but it belongs to the whole team.
"It was a great assist from Cristiano Ronaldo and great work from everyone.”
Juventus also progressed on the night, a 0-0 draw in Monaco securing a 1-0 aggregate victory and captain Gianluigi Buffon rejoiced in a first semi-final appearance in 12 years, ahead of Friday’s draw in Nyon (15:00, UAE time).
Buffon was in the Juve side which lost to Milan in the 2003 final but has warned his team-mates this year to not get carried away.
He said: “I’ve had to wait a while to return to this stage of Europe. But, given how difficult our path here has been, it’s even more enjoyable.
“We have not won or achieved anything yet, we just wanted to get to the semi-finals at all costs.”