MADRID: Real Madrid reached the Champions League semi-finals for the sixth successive season – thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo.
His superb hat-trick overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Wolfsburg for the record 10-times champions to reach the semi-finals 3-2 on aggregate.
Wolfsburg arrived in Spain’s capital protecting a healthy lead but that was wiped out by a Ronaldo double in the space of 86 first-half seconds.
The Portuguese swept home the first from six yards before a glancing header levelled the scores on aggregate. Ronaldo’s hat-trick goal came from a 75th-minute free-kick when Wolfsburg’s wall parted.
It completed a remarkable turnaround and keeps alive a season that looked to be over for Zinedine Zidane’s side after last week’s loss in Germany.
Three months ago Real fans were waving white handkerchiefs in a show of anger during the final throes of Rafael Benitez’s short-lived reign.
On Tuesday, supporters gave the players a standing ovation after a brilliant performance saw them advance to the semi-finals for the sixth successive season.
Ronaldo grabbed the match ball at the final whistle and placed it under his shirt as he lapped up the applause from the stands.
The former Manchester United forward has 93 Champions League goals to his name – 10 more than nearest rival Lionel Messi.
Yet despite his hat-trick, this was a real team effort from Zidane’s side. Sergio Ramos twice struck the woodwork while Karim Benzema and substitute Jese forced fine saves from Diego Benaglio.
Real join Manchester City in the semi-final draw after Manuel Pellegrini’s team defeated Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 for a 3-2 aggregate success.
Kevin de Bruyne’s late strike sealed a thrilling win after Sergio Aguero had missed a first-half penalty.
But the hosts had Joe Hart to thank for three fine saves at 0-0, notably a ferocious Zlatan Ibrahimovic free-kick that the England goalkeeper clawed to safety.
But, roared on by a capacity crowd of 53,039 that supplied an unforgettable atmosphere, City held their nerve at the back before De Bruyne’s decisive strike 15 minutes from time with their only shot on target.