Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti sent a warning to Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus that his side will not relinquish their Champions League title lightly after finally seeing off Atletico Madrid to progress to the semi-finals 1-0 on aggregate.
Javier Hernandez scored the only goal of the tie two minutes from time after Atletico had been reduced to 10 men as Arda Turan was sent-off for two bookable offences.
It was the first time in eight meetings that Real had beaten Atletico this season, but Ancelotti dismissed suggestions they lack the firepower to compete with tournament favourites Bayern Munich and Barca.
“If we play with the desire we did today, Real Madrid can compete with anyone,” said the Italian.
The holders were without the injured Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, as well as the suspended Marcelo.
But Ancelotti is confident that at least Bale and Benzema could be fit for the semi-finals.
“We will recover the injured players for the semi-finals so the things are going to improve.
“I think Bale and Benzema will be fit quickly but I cannot say an exact day.”
Hernandez was an unlikely hero having started just six games all season before Wednesday, but Ancelotti hailed his professionalism despite a lack of first-team opportunities due to the form of Benzema.
“Hernandez played very well, he played with a lot of desire. He has suffered a lot this season, he has played very little but he never gave up.
“In the difficult moments he continued to train well and that has paid off for him in the end.”
The decisive moment in the tie arguably came 12 minutes before Hernandez’s goal, though, as Turan saw a second yellow card for a high challenge on Sergio Ramos.
“I doesn’t make any sense to have an opinion (on the red card) because the game is finished and anything I say can’t affect what has happened,” lamented Atletico boss Diego Simeone.
The outcome was eerily familiar for the La Liga champions as a late goal from Ramos also denied them in last season’s Champions League final before Real romped to a 4-1 victory in extra time.
However, Simeone hailed the work rate of his side to once again push their much richer rivals all the way over 180 minutes.
“I go away proud of my team. Once more we competed very well in a very difficult competition like the Champions League,” he said.
“Competing as we did today, I have sure I have a team of men, a team that work hard. At times we can play better or worse, but I am so proud of the players and to be the coach of these guys who gave what they gave today.
“When I was a boy I was taught that in a game you have to compete and when you give everything and lose I would go home happy. When the team works like it did today there are no negative feelings.
“I think a lot of coaches would envy having players that run for 90 minutes despite the difficulties in front of them.
“We congratulate the opponents because they played very well and scored a great goal.” – Agence France-Presse