Football: Ronaldo sends Real through to Barca date
LONDON—Real Madrid secured a Champions League semi-final showdown with Barcelona as Cristiano Ronaldo punished Heurelho Gomes’s blunder to clinch a 1-0 win over Tottenham in the quarter-final second leg on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho’s side already had one foot in the last four after romping to a 4-0 victory in the first leg and the 5-0 aggregate success sets up an epic installment of their ‘El Clasico’ feud with bitter rivals Barca.
Tottenham had two decent penalty claims turned down at White Hart Lane, but their hopes were extinguished when Brazilian goalkeeper Gomes allowed Ronaldo’s shot to squirm into the net early in the second half.
Mourinho can now look forward to another semi-final meeting with Barca, who were eliminated by the Portuguese coach when he was in charge at Inter Milan last season.
Real and Barca will fight for three trophies over the next month as they are also scrapping for the La Liga title and clash in the Spanish Cup final.
Mourinho said that he had suffered some nervous moments in the first-half but once Ronaldo scored it was game over. He said that his side had a chance against Barca.
“Let’s see what happens. A semi-final is a semi-final. Anything can happen, though, we have not been as fortunate as Barcelona in avoiding suspensions for the match,” said Mourinho.
Spurs star player Gareth Bale said they had nothing to be ashamed about.
“Defeat is always hard to take and it’s disappointing as we had a great run,” said the Welshman.
“It’s been fantastic not just for me but also for everyone at the club.”
Harry Redknapp did a good job of making Tottenham’s mission impossible seem slightly less implausible at his upbeat pre-match press conference but, for all his faith in a miraculous escape, he knew no team had ever come back from four goals down in the second leg of a Champions League tie.
Redknapp’s side needed an early breakthrough to make Madrid nervous.
Bale led the way as he fired over a shot that Iker Casillas could only parry. From the rebound Luka Modric appeared to be fouled by Xabi Alonso, but Spurs’ penalty appeals were rejected by referee Nicola Rizzoli.
Another incisive burst from Bale left two Madrid defenders trailing in his wake before the Welsh winger was finally crowded out. Mourinho responded by turning to his bench with a look of admiration as much as relief etched across his face.
The Real boss was glued to the edge of his technical area and he had another scare in the 26th minute as Spurs created their first clear chance.
Rafael van der Vaart’s turn and quick pass sent Aaron Lennon away down the right and his cross looked perfect for Roman Pavlyuchenko, only for the Russian to shoot wildly over the bar.
After being hamstrung by Peter Crouch’s reckless red card in the first leg, Spurs were showing they could hold their own against Real with 11 men.
Despite having five stars one booking away from a European suspension, Mourinho had sent out a full-strength team.
He knows how desperately Real crave a tenth success in the Champions League and was determined to make sure there was no shock collapse.
The move slightly backfired when Ricardo Carvalho was booked for a foul on Tom Huddlestone, ruling the defender out of the semi-final first leg. But Mourinho’s men remained firmly in control of their main aim of reaching the last four.
Rizzoli turned down another penalty claim for Raul Albiol’s trip on Pavlyuchenko, while Bale’s ‘goal’ was rightly ruled out as Luka Modric was standing offside when he headed back to his team-mate.
Tottenham’s hopes were fading by the minute and a horrendous mistake by Gomes put the tie completely beyond their reach five minutes into the second half.
Ronaldo was 25 yards out when he let fly and the Portugal forward’s effort seemed to be heading straight to Gomes, only for the keeper to fumble the ball out of his grasp and into the net.