San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Futbol

Keylor Navas and Real Madrid beat Wolfsburg to classify for Champions League semifinals

Keylor Navas will be the first Costa Rican ever to play in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League tournament after Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Wolfsburg Tuesday.

Thanks to a hat trick from Madrid’s superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo, the Spanish side overcame a two-goal deficit on aggregate goals to be one of the final four teams in the tournament made up of Europe’s best clubs, ostensibly saving an otherwise disappointing season.

Ronaldo, who is the all-time goal scoring leader in Champions League history, scored his 91st and 92nd tournament goals just one minute apart from each other in the first half. The second goal made it 2-0 Real Madrid in the game and tied the aggregate score of 2-2, wiping away the lead Wolfsburg had established with last week’s dominating performance in the first leg of the two-game quarterfinal series.

The first game between the two sides in Germany put an end to Navas’ nine-game scoreless streak. On Tuesday, Navas responded by playing another great game behind a clearly motivated Real Madrid.

Wolfsburg failed to threaten Madrid until a free kick in the 23rd minute when Navas was required to come out of net and corral the aerial ball in front of an attacking forward. Then in the 33rd minute, Navas leapt up to block a laser shot from Wolfsburg’s Luiz Gustavo right below the post.

In the second period, Real Madrid continued its offensive barrage on Wolfsburg. Los Merengues looked to have the series-winning goal in the 65th minute when captain Sergio Ramos headed a ball towards the post before it skidded the line and went into the hands of opposing goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.

Magic happened in the 77th minute when midfielder Luka Modric was fouled, setting up a free kick for Ronaldo. Navas ran up to Ronaldo just before the decisive kick and whispered something into the ear of the Portuguese star. Whatever it was that Navas said, it worked. Ronaldo drove a free kick through a perfect opening in the wall of defenders to give Madrid the aggregate lead and send the home crowd at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu into a fervor.

Now Real Madrid will wait to see who its opponent will be in the semifinals, where it could possibly face league rivals Barcelona or Atlético Madrid, who square off tomorrow for a semifinal spot. Manchester City of the English Premier League topped Paris St. Germain 1-0 Tuesday to secure the second semifinal spot.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

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