Real Madrid join Juventus in CL final
Defending champions Real Madrid withstood an early onslaught by Atletico Madrid to reach a third Champions League final in four years despite a 2-1 loss to their city rivals yesterday.
Atletico, which trailed 3-0 after the first leg, scored twice in the first 16 minutes at the Vicente Calderon Stadium to move within a goal of sending the semifinal second-leg into extra time. But Francisco "Isco" Alarcon netted a crucial away goal for Real Madrid before halftime to secure a 4-2 victory on aggregate and a spot in the final against Juventus on June 3 in Cardiff.
Madrid will try to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the competition's new format was created in 1992.
Atletico kept their hopes alive yesterday by scoring two early goals to ignite the crowd at the packed Calderon.
Saul Niguez netted the first goal with a header off a corner in the 12th minute, and Antoine Griezmann added to the lead four minutes later by converting a penalty kick after Fernando Torres was fouled by defender Raphael Varane inside the area. Griezmann slipped slightly just as he was taking the shot, and goalkeeper Keylor Navas got his hand to the ball but was not able to fully deflect it.
The goals left Atletico only one away from sending the match into extra time, but Diego Simeone's team was not able to keep pressuring as it did in the first minutes of the game.
The match was even when Karim Benzema came up with a spectacular move to set up Isco's goal. The French striker was surrounded by three Atletico defenders by the end line but found a way to get past all of them with a pair of quick touches. He sped into the area and sent a backward pass to Toni Kroos, whose shot was initially saved by goalkeeper Jan Oblak, but Isco was nearby and picked up the rebound to easily score from close range.