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Joselu becomes Real Madrid’s unlikely Champions League hero

Written by on May 9, 2024

With Real Madrid on the verge of a Champions League exit, they needed to find a hero – and they got an unlikely one with Joselu sending them to the final in dramatic circumstances.

The 34-year-old, who had uninspiring spells with Stoke City and Newcastle United, came on in the 81st minute with Real in huge trouble.

They were a goal down in the second leg of their semi-final with Bayern Munich but Joselu transformed the match as his double sealed a remarkable 4-3 aggregate success.

He pounced on a rare error from the usually outstanding Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to make it level in the 88th minute, then did well to steer in a volley from Antonio Rudiger’s square pass in the first minute of additional time.

Joselu’s second was originally ruled out for offside, only for a video assistant referee (VAR) check to show the Spain international as onside, sparking incredible scenes of celebration and setting up a Wembley final on 1 June with Borussia Dortmund.

After Karim Benzema, Real’s second highest goalscorer of all time, moved to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad last summer, Real signed Joselu on loan from Espanyol.

He scored 17 goals for Espanyol in 2022-23 and has now scored 17 times for Real in 2023-24 from 46 appearances, with 30 of those coming as a substitute.

England midfielder Jude Bellingham hailed his team-mate, saying: “I don’t think he’ll be sleeping much tonight. He deserves it all. He has been an amazing member of the squad throughout the whole season. This is his night.”

Joselu said even he could not have imagined this scenario: “You always dream of this kind of performance, but not even my most beautiful dreams are as big as what happened.

“I don’t know anything about being a hero, but I’m very happy. It was incredible, something spectacular. This team never gives up, it’s in its blood to fight to the end and that’s what we’ve done.”

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