The Portuguese scored the goals that saw Los Blancos through at the Santiago Bernabeu, but they had a big helping hand from the officials on Tuesday
Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero once again. Just as he did in the last eight here against Wolfsburg a year ago, the Portuguese hit a hat-trick against another German team, this time Bayern Munich, to send Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals.
The prolific Portuguese will take the plaudits and dominate the headlines, while the defending champions advance with what looked like a commanding victory in the end as they beat Bayern 6-3 on aggregate. But there was much more to it than that.
After a goalless first half with chances for both teams, Carlo Ancelotti’s side levelled the tie at 2-2 from the penalty spot after Casemiro was adjudged to have fouled Arjen Robben. Robert Lewandowski scored it, but the Brazilian midfielder had already been booked and was extremely fortunate to stay on the pitch.
Casemiro could have been booked later on for diving as well, but also got away with that. Bayern’s Arturo Vidal was less fortunate, however, and was shown a second yellow for what was a clean tackle.
At that point, the tie was level at 3-3 and Bayern were on top after Sergio Ramos’ own goal had brought the Germans very much back in it by cancelling out Ronaldo’s earlier header. And it was a dreadful decision because Vidal had beaten Marco Asensio to the ball fairly and squarely. It was not even a foul.
So Bayern were down to 10 when it should have been Madrid playing with a numerical disadvantage. There was much more to come as well because when Ronaldo made it 4-3 on aggregate in extra time, he had clearly been offside. And when he added another after a remarkable run by Marcelo, again he was in an illegal position.
“We can say many great things about Ronaldo,” Italy legend Paolo Rossi said on Mediaset Premium. “We already knew that he is a great champion but the result tonight was completely falsified by certain incidents. There were four major episodes and all four went in favour of Real Madrid.
He was right on both points. Ronaldo is a great player and the Portuguese is so often the difference at this level. But there is no doubt that on this occasion, Madrid had the benefit of the decisions on a night when they so easily could have exited the continental competition.
“Why do we not have technology in football?” former Bayern and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves said on BT Sport . “It is unacceptable. To have that many decisions go wrong in a game of this magnitude. This game was decided by the referees.”
It was and technology in football does exist, of course. It was utilised in the Club World Cup last December when Ronaldo also scored a hat-trick in an extra-time win (over Japanese side Kashima Antlers) and again in the recent friendly between Spain and France. But not, strangely, in the Champions League.
“We played against maybe the best team in the tournament this year but we scored six goals and they only scored three, so we deserved to go through,” Zidane said after the game when asked if the better side had lost.
Madrid may have gone through anyway, of course, but the competition’s most successful side surely do not need such favours and while Ronaldo and Real will be jubilant, Bayern can feel extremely hard done by after a hugely controversial night in Madrid on Tuesday.