Hernandez heroics lifts Real Madrid into UCL semis

Mexico international Javier Hernandez (pictured) celebrates after scoring in Real Madrid's win over visiting Atletico Madrid in an UEFA Champions League game on April 22, 2015. (Photo: Mexsport)

MADRID, Spain -- Mexico international striker Javier Hernandez netted what he termed as the "most important goal" of his career to boost Real Madrid to a 1-0 victory over derby-rival Atletico Madrid on Wednesday and into the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League by the same aggregate score. 

Real Madrid, gunning for a record 11th European crown and trying to become the first side to defend successfully its Champions League crown, reached the final four for the fifth consecutive time and 35th overall.  The La Liga powerhouse is joined in the semifinals by Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. 

Hernandez converted a Cristiano Ronaldo pass in the 88th minute of the quarterfinal encounter at the Santiago Bernabéu two minutes after Atletico's Arda Turan was dismissed for accruing his second yellow card.  Following a one-two with James Rodriguez, Ronaldo fed Hernandez, who had no problem slotting away the ball past goalkeeper Jan Oblak. 

It was Hernandez's first Champions League goal in 895 days.

"Yes, of course, it's my most important goal, because the present is what's important," Hernandez told reporters.  "I've scored important goals in my career, but what counts is now.  This gives me confidence.  It was a great assist.  He played to win. 

"This is a derby match.  This belongs to everyone.  It belongs to all the people.  I had to score but it's for everyone.  The people who trusted in me, my teammates and my family.  The goal is for all of them. 

Real head coach Carlo Ancelotti praised Hernandez, who has seen sparse playing time the team after he was loaned from Manchester United (England) earlier this season.

"We have to congratulate [Hernandez] because it has been a difficult year," Ancelotti said.  "He's not playing much, but he has always trained, worked and suffered and he deserves what has happened." 

The semifinal draw will be held on Friday.

The first leg is set for May 5-6, the second leg for May 12-13. The final is scheduled for Berlin on June 6.