Madrid beats Spurs 1-0, makes semi vs. Barcelona
Real Madrid completed its untroubled progress past Tottenham in the Champions League on Wednesday to set up a semifinal meeting with fierce historic rival Barcelona.
With Madrid coach Jose Mourinho seeking to retain the title he won last season with Inter Milan, Cristiano Ronaldo's 40th goal of the season gave the record nine-time European champions a 1-0 win and a 5-0 aggregate win over Spurs.
Already 4-0 up from the first leg of the quarterfinal, Mourinho's team withstood first-half pressure before goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes fumbled Ronaldo's speculative shot from about 30 meters (yards) over his own line.
Barcelona beat Madrid 5-0 at Camp Nou this season, but Mourinho last season engineered a semifinal win over Barcelona and also won the Champions League with FC Porto in 2004.
''Let's see what happens against Barcelona,'' said Mourinho, who has taken Madrid to its first semifinal for eight years. ''We have ambition, a semi is a semi and anything can happen.''
Madrid now faces Barcelona four times in 18 days, starting Saturday in the Spanish league. The teams then meet in the final of Spain's Copa del Rey before the two-legged Champions League semifinal.
''I am not of the opinion that what happens in first game can influence what happens in the second, third or fourth,'' Mourinho said. ''Tomorrow, when I get back to work, I will be thinking about Saturday's game; not Wednesday or the Champions League.''
With Barcelona in the way, Mourinho said it was too early to think about the possibility of rounding off his debut season at Madrid with a Champions League final at Wembley against Manchester United or Schalke. But he knows he has to win something.
''I don't think you can say it's a successful season getting to the final of the Copa del Rey and the semifinals of the Champions League,'' Mourinho said. ''I don't think about the final because it is a hypothetical situation. We respect opponents and do not speak about finals.''
As for Tottenham, with its debut campaign in the tournament over, it can now concentrate on closing a three-point gap on the top four in the Premier League to reach the Champions League for a second straight season.
''It is no good doing it once and then not doing it again,'' Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. ''We have to improve and be there next year too.''
Despite three hopeful calls for first-half penalties and a goal by Gareth Bale ruled out for offside, Tottenham never looked like becoming the first team to recover a four-goal deficit in Europe's premier club competition.
''We lost it to a better team but we're disappointed to go out,'' Bale said.
Madrid defender Sergio Ramos almost scored with a header to the top right corner eight minutes before halftime, but Gomes leaped to keep it out and Ronaldo put the rebound into the side netting.
Gomes also made a full-length save from a long-range shot by substitute Kaka, but his performance was marred by the latest high-profile blunder of his time with Spurs.
Tottenham's raucous fans were subdued by the goal but stayed to the end to give a standing ovation to a side that beat Italian powers Inter Milan and AC Milan to surprisingly be among the last eight clubs.
They had little else to cheer.
Bale hit a free kick against the wall, Roman Pavlyuchenko blasted Aaron Lennon's cross over the bar and Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved Lennon's curling free kick to the far post.
Madrid's Mesut Oezil had a low shot saved by Gomes in the second minute for the game's first chance before some searing runs down the left wing from Bale had the home fans chanting the Wales winger's name.
But Marcelo soon became a pivotal figure in midfield, intercepting passes to snuff out Tottenham's moves and instigating Madrid's counters with his own short, sharp passes.
Madrid's fans were jubilant for the last 40 minutes, chanting Mourinho's name and reveling in the prospect of meeting Barcelona.
The only negative for Mourinho and Madrid was Ricardo Carvalho's yellow card for a late tackle on Tom Huddlestone, ruling him out of the first leg of the semifinal.