Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has probably never scored a more important goal in his professional career than when he tapped in a pass from Cristiano Ronaldo in the 88th minute Wednesday, propelling defending champion Real Madrid into the Champions League semifinals for the fifth straight year.
“It might have been me who scored the goal but it belongs to everyone – those who have had confidence in me, my teammates and my family. This goal is for all of them,” the Mexican striker told Canal Plus via Goal.com following the match. “This is the most important goal of my career, yes, because only the present is important. I might have scored other important goals in my career, but what matters is the present.”
With its 1-0 victory, the defending champs finally beat crosstown rival Atletico Madrid in their eighth derby this season.
During Wednesday’s match, Atletico played a man short after midfielder Arda Turan was ejected in the 76th minute following his second yellow card, given for a clumsy challenge on Sergio Ramos.
Ronaldo set up the goal after he sped upfield, exchanged passes with James Rodríguez and crossed to Hernandez, who swept the ball past goalkeeper Jan Oblak kept from the penalty spot.
It was only the sixth goal in 25 games this season for Chicharito, who has played a minor role for Real during his season-long loan from Manchester United.
Hernandez had not scored in the Champions League since Nov, 7, 2012.
"He was up for it because I think he's suffered a lot this season as he's played very little, and in the end his goal has been very important for us," Real coach Carlo Ancelloti said. "He never gave up."
In the night's other match, visiting Juventus tied Monaco 0-0 to advance on 1-0 aggregate and become the first Italian team to reach the semifinals since Inter Milan won the 2010 title. Arturo Vidal converted a penalty kick in the 57th minute of the first leg last week.
Barcelona and Bayern Munich advanced Tuesday. The semifinal draw is Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.