Real Madrid: How the football world reacted to the extraordinary victory of the Champions League semi-final of Los Blancos

The last time the two teams faced each other was in Kiev in 2018, when Salah left the field in tears after being injured in a tackle by Sergio Ramos. Real Madrid went on to win 3-1 and lift their 13th European Cup.

Now, in Paris — after the final was moved from St. Petersburg following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — the Reds and Los Blancos will meet again.

Real Madrid, who had been unable to score a single shot on goal all evening, trailed 5-3 on Wednesday as the clock ticked toward 90 minutes.

Then two goals – one on the stroke of 90 minutes and one in added time – from substitute Rodrygo leveled the score and dragged the game into extra time.

Buoyed by the rough atmosphere that had developed around the Bernabeu, Real’s attack continued, resulting in a penalty in the 95th minute. Karim Benzema stepped up, converted and propelled his side to the Champions League final.

Like the fans in the stadium, the reaction in the Spanish newspapers was frantic. “God has to come and explain,” explained the Spanish newspaper MARCA.
“Real Madrid comes from another planet,” the AS front page read.

Mundo Deportivo, a Barcelona-based newspaper more traditionally associated with Real’s great rival Barça, headlined “Groundhog Day”, referring to Los Merengues’ remarkable string of Bernabéu comebacks in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

In the quarter-finals, a hat-trick in the second half of the return leg of Benzema defeated Paris Saint-Germain and reversed an overall 2-0 deficit. In the semi-final against Chelsea, a late goal by Rodrygo forced extra time into extra time before Benzema scored the decisive goal in the 96th minute.

“I can’t say we are used to living this kind of life, but what happened tonight happened against Chelsea and also against Paris,” Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told the BBC.

“If you have to say why, it’s the history of this club that helps us carry on when it seems like we’re gone.

“The game was almost over and we managed to find the last energy we had. We played a good game against a strong rival. When we equalized, we had a psychological advantage in extra time.”

It was “another crazy night,” Real midfielder Federico Valverde said, according to the BBC.

“When City scored, it felt like everything was falling apart – all that effort and struggle in every round, it felt lost.

“But the fans were a big help for us to fight until the end. When the goals come, you think: we are going to win today,” he said.

And true to the chants that Real fans chorus around the Bernabéu — “hasta el final, vamos Real” (“Till the end, let’s go Real”) and “sí, se puede” (“yes, we can”) — Madrid’s squad achieved another astonishing result for centuries.

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