Real Madrid CF coach Vicente del Bosque was overjoyed after his side eliminated holders FC Bayern München in a fiery UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg at the Santiago Bernabeú stadium.
The Spanish side had trailed 2-1 from the first leg in Germany, but second-half goals from from Iván Helguera and Guti gave Madrid a 2-0 victory on the night and sent them through 3-2 on aggregate. Del Bosque praised his players' patient approach. "It was a super match, very hard-fought, very well played, very tough, very physical but also very tactical - it was exceptional," he said. "We played very patiently, without becoming nervous, even when the goal did not arrive. We waited for our opportunities, because we were producing so many opportunities to score that it was just a question of time."
Madrid will face fierce rivals FC Barcelona in a two-legged semi-final that is sure to capture Europe's imagination - and bring Spain to a standstill. But Del Bosque is not prepared to look too far ahead, citing the significance of domestic matters for Spain's reigning champions. "Real Madrid have continued in brilliant style in this season's Champions League, but now it is time to think of the Spanish league for a while," he said. "Afterwards, we will concentrate absolutely on the semi-finals against Barcelona, which will be unforgettable matches for Spanish football."
Del Bosque's opposite number, Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, accepted the defeat with good grace. He said: "Real Madrid dominated the match from the first minute. They put us under unbelievable pressure for 90 minutes. Madrid are the rightful winners - they played much better, especially in the second half.
'Real too aggressive'
"Bayern can play in many different forms. Today we prepared a defensive match and tried to control the ball. But I saw some tackling by Raúl and Roberto Carlos that was violent, not fair, and the referee has not stopped it. Real played too aggressively.
"I am disappointed, but I am also happy with my team: all the players have done the maximum. Real Madrid have invested a lot of money to improve their team in comparison with last year. Bayern have not invested such an amount, so it is expected that we have lost while last year we won. But this is not the end of an era, we will recover from this defeat, next year we will improve the squad and we must do our best to play Champions League football next season."
But while Bayern turn their attention to domestic matters in order to ensure their place in Europe next term, all Spanish eyes will be on Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium in a fortnight's time. Madrid's Santiago Solari is one man who cannot wait for the double-header. He said: "They will be superb matches: that is why we love the Champions League. The matches are some of the best you can play in your career, and the semi-finals will be spectacular."
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