Madrid's quest for triple crown remains alive

Madrid's quest for triple crown remains alive

Carlo Ancelotti’s 50th match in charge of Real Madrid was his most nerve-wracking so far but after surviving a Champions League scare at Borussia Dortmund, his expensively assembled side retain a chance of a rare treble.

Real appeared lost without injured top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who watched anxiously from the bench as the La Liga giants were comprehensively outplayed in a 2-0 reverse in the quarterfinal, second leg that meant they squeaked into the last four 3-2 on aggregate.

Both of Marco Reus’ goals for Dortmund came after Real howlers, the first when centre-back Pepe headed the ball into his path in the 24th minute and the second when midfielder Asier Illarramendi surrendered possession.

The Bundesliga side, who knocked Real out in the semifinals last season, came close to levelling the tie when Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s shot hit the post in the 65th minute but Real held out and will go into Friday’s draw for the last four as they chase a record-extending 10th European crown.

They are third in La Liga, three points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with six games left, and also through to next Wednesday’s King’s Cup final to face arch-rivals Barcelona.
Barca are the only Spanish side to have won the Champions League, La Liga and the King’s Cup in one season, in 2009 under Pep Guardiola.

A relieved Ancelotti said the match in Dortmund had turned when Angel Di Maria’s 17th-minute penalty was saved by home goalkeeper and captain Roman Weidenfeller.
“We gifted them a lot, above all in the first half,” the Italian, who has 39 wins, six draws and five defeats in his first 50 Real games, told a news conference.

“In the second we didn't lose our heads, we defended better and we had chances to score,” he added. “I am pleased to get to the semifinals, which was an important goal, but not with the way which we did it.”  Real’s lethargic performance almost wrecked their chances of a fourth consecutive appearance in the semis and they will have to improve if they are to reach next month's final in Lisbon.