Ronaldo hat trick puts Madrid into Champions League semis

AP

With a hat trick that made him the first player to score 100 Champions League goals, Cristiano Ronaldo led Real Madrid to a 4-2 win over 10-man Bayern Munich after extra time on Tuesday and put the defending champions back in the semifinals.

Ronaldo scored once in regulation and twice in extra time, while Marco Asensio also netted late for Madrid, which advanced 6-3 on aggregate after a 2-1 first leg win in Germany.

“In the big moments, Ronaldo always comes through,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “He scored five times in these two games, what else can I say?”

Ronaldo had scored both goals for Madrid in the first leg, when he became the first player to reach 100 goals in European club competition.

Bayern played a man down from the 84th minute after Arturo Vidal picked up his second yellow card of the night for a foul on Asensio.

“We deserved more,” said Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti, who complained about the refereeing. “The calls made by the referee hurt us a lot. The second yellow for Arturo should not have been a card, and Ronaldo had two goals when he was offside.”

Ronaldo appeared to be in front of the defenders, and just offside, for his first goal in extra time.

Vidal appeared to mainly get the ball in his challenge on Asensio, although he could have received a second yellow earlier for a foul on Casemiro.

After Robert Lewandowski had scored a 53rd minute penalty for Bayern, an own-goal by Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in the 78th had given the German side a 2-1 lead in regulation time, and sent the game into extra time.

The victory at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium put Madrid into the semifinals for the seventh straight season and kept alive its hopes of becoming the first team to retain the Champions League title since the competition’s new format was created in 1992.

Madrid defeated city rival Atletico Madrid in the final both in 2014 and 2016.

Atletico also made it to the semifinals by eliminating Leicester 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal, second-leg match.

Once Atletico grabbed an away goal through Saul Niguez’s first-half header, any hopes of the English champions extending their debut in Europe’s elite competition seemed to be completely extinguished.

Especially since Atletico was looking technically superior, attacking with greater skill and potency and outplaying the European novices.

And yet the spirit that powered Leicester to a remarkable Premier League title triumph returned in the second half as a tactical switch by caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 put Leicester firmly back in the game. The subdued atmosphere was lifted by Jamie Vardy’s 61st-minute strike, but leveling the score on a chilly central England night wasn’t sufficient.

A defense as sturdy as Atletico’s wasn’t going to allow Leicester to score the two goals it still required to go through as a succession of shots were intercepted.

“We were definitely in the ascendancy,” Vardy said. “We brought Leo (Leonardo Ulloa at halftime) on to cause an aerial threat and it started paying dividends for us. They are probably used to playing teams who keep possession more, so we were going direct.”

The tactic certainly made life difficult for Atletico.

“It was almost a pleasure to compete against them,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said through a translator. “They never gave up for one minute. They didn’t let their heads drop. We lived in fear all night.”

Bayern, the 2013 Champions League winner, had made it at least to the semifinals for the last five seasons.

“We played a lot of difficult matches this season, but this one was the most difficult one,” Zidane said. “In the end, over the two legs, we deserved to go through.”

The opening 45 minutes were balanced between the two sides, but Bayern was dominant after halftime as it pressed forward, trying to overturn the first-leg deficit.

“The team was courageous,” Bayern defender Philipp Lahm said. “It hurts to go out in extra time, but we were a man down for over an hour across the tie. I think the team deserved to go through.”

Leicester, England’s last Champions League representative, went out with a fight exactly eight years to the day since the club began its dazzling ascent by clinching the third-tier title, with the exhausted players collapsing the turf at the final whistle after pressing with grit and directness.

Leicester, which is 12th in the Premier League and not sure of survival, now faces up to the reality that it could be many years before the team can contemplate a return to the Champions League. Atletico will focus on trying to land the prize the keeps eluding Simeone. It was a finalist in both 2014 and 2016 but beaten by Real Madrid on both occasion, while a constant contender for the Spanish title.

“I wanted to make life hard for every team we played,” said Simeone, who has been in charge since 2011. “It’s satisfying now to say we are a competitive outfit.”