Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to help Real Madrid topple Wolfsburg in the quarterfinal second leg and move into the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.
Up against a 2-0 deficit after a woeful first leg last week, Real Madrid needed at least three unanswered goals to be able to keep their Champions League dream alive. With a swipe of the right boot and a glancing header, Ronaldo restored parity in the tie, before scoring the decisive goal – his 16th in the Champions League this season -- just as the match was heading for extra time.
Early goals to put Wolfsburg under pressure would have been the plan laid out by Zinedine Zidane at the start of the match, and after a measured opening, Real Madrid found just that, and more, via their superstar.
In the 16th minute, Ronaldo was on hand at the far post to turn in a cross from Dani Carvajal. It was woeful defending from Wolfsburg, with both Dante and Naldo letting the ball go past them after the Carvajal cross from the right had taken a slight deflection. Ronaldo was waiting beyond them to slot the ball past Diego Benaglio.
A little over 60 seconds later, Ronaldo made it 2-0 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate, with the 31-year-old glancing a nice header from the near post into the back of the net off a corner.
Real Madrid went into their shells a little bit after the two goals, allowing Wolfsburg to come at them. The German side created a couple of really good chances as well before halftime, and had either of them gone in, it would have meant Real needed another two goals.
However, go in they did not, and Ronaldo was at hand in the 77th minute to net from a freekick, forcing the ball past the wall and Benaglio to complete a stirring comeback.
"I feel we have done a good job," Zidane, the Real Madrid manager, told UEFA's official website. "It was not easy. I'm very proud of the players and what they did. It was a special night and we got what we were looking for."