Real Madrid and Manchester City advanced to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League as they overcame Wolfsburg and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.
Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick, as Los Blancos crushed Wolfsburg 3-0 at the Bernabeu, while Kelvin De-Bruyne’s all-important second half strike was enough to see Manuel Pellegrini’s side advance to the last four of the Champions League for the first time in their history.
The Portuguese forward scored twice in the first half, within 88 seconds to cancel out Wolfsburg’s two-goal advantage, before striking a dazzling free-kick in the 77th minute as Real booked their spot in the last four in style, despite losing 2-0 in Germany.
Ronaldo set two new Champions League record with his hat-trick against their German opponents.
This was the third time the 31-year- old scored a hat-trick in the Champions League this season, no other player can match that feat.
Also, he scored his 14th, 15th and 16th goal in the game, no other player has scored 15 or more goals in the Champions League in two different campaigns.
Madrid’s victory moved them to within two matches of a second final appearance in three years.
“Cristiano needs the whole team, I want to speak about the team because they achieved this together,” Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
“But he is special because not everyone is capable of scoring three goals.”
Real Madrid is still the only team yet to concede a goal at home in the Champions League this season.
Elsewhere, Sergio Aguero missed penalty for City in the first half, to leave the tie balanced after a 2-2 first-leg draw in Paris last week.
Without Vincent Kompany, City’s defence stood firm against all odds to keep out PSG’s PSG’s stellar forward line, nobody expected a clean sheet against a Paris Saint-Germain team who knew they had to score to progress.
Yet De Bruyne, looked a class act again, as he did in Paris a week ago, curling his right foot around the ball to place the ball perfectly beyond the reach of PSG goalkeeper, Kevin Trapp to take his side to their maiden Champions League Semi-finals.
The £54million player, has now had a hand in 27 goals in all competitions for City this season (15 goals, 12 assists) – a joint-high for the club alongside Aguero.
The final whistle brought scenes of pure emotion from the fans at Etihad Stadium, who were already in uncharted territory.
City are only the fourth English side to reach the Champions League semi-finals since 2009-10 (Manchester United 2010-11, Chelsea 2011-12, Chelsea 2013-14).
“It is one of the targets of this club to try and improve every year,” City manager, Pellegrini said in a post-match news conference.
“I know we have received a lot of criticism for different reasons but I think that we are improving.
“It is not easy because you have very strong teams in Europe but I am sure that the target of this club is to win the Champions League.
“Of course [City could win it] this season or next season,” he continued.
“If you are in the semi-final you know that you have to play against a very big team of Europe but playing in the way we did tonight – I think we played better than Paris Saint-Germain, who are a very strong team with very strong players.
“I think we have a lot of trust that we can play against anyone in the way we did against PSG.”
Also speaking after the game, PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic criticized coach Laurent Blanc’s decision to play three defenders in the first half as the tactic backfired.
“In the first half we played in a system that we’d never tried,” Ibrahimovic told Canal+
“It went as it went.”
PSG have been knocked out in the quarter-finals in their past four Champions League campaigns.
The draw for the Champions League semi-finals is on Friday, with the ties to be played on 26-27 April and 3-4 May. The final is in Milan on 28 May.