The Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp forgave his goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes after the Brazilian let a speculative, long-range shot from Cristiano Ronaldo slip through his fingers to hand Real Madrid a 1-0 victory last night.
Ronaldo's 50th minute goal – his 40th in all competitions this season – completed a 5-0 aggregate win for the nine-time European Champions, setting up a two-legged semi-final with Barcelona, who they must also face in the Spanish league and cup in the next fortnight.
Gomes was at fault for the goal but Redknapp stuck up for him, saying: "The goal was disappointing. The keeper's been great and made saves he had no rights to save. He's been great for me since I've been here. He made a rare mistake but that's how it goes."
Tottenham came into the game needing a miracle but there were not given any favours by the Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli, who turned down a valid appeal for a penalty when Luka Modric was fouled by Xabi Alonso in the sixth minute. A phlegmatic Redknapp said: "I thought was definitely a foul on Modric, for sure. It looked a penalty. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't."
Redknapp said it would be a greater achievement than last season's were Tottenham to reach the Champions League again next season.
"It's even harder this year than last because of the improvement Manchester City have made by spending so much and the squad they've got. We've still got a big chance and some tough games, Arsenal, Chelsea and City but it's much better to have those games with something to play for than being 12th."
Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid manager, repeated his desire to return to England after he has finished in Spain, but said he will not be returning this year. The former Chelsea coach, who has been linked with a return to Stamford Bridge, said: "It [England] is my natural habitat. It's where I want to come after Real Madrid. I stay at Real Madrid next season. Unless the press sacks me!"
He has patched up his differences with the Madrid hierarchy which earlier this year had threatened to bring his time in Spain to a premature end. But his fate could yet be decided by the four upcoming games with Barcelona.
Mourinho said: "I have been in the game for many years and know that you are judged by results. You can prepare well for the season but if you don't achieve titles it is easy to forget all the good work. Football is like that. You are judged by results. I can't say this is a successful season at this stage."
Before the game Tottenham announced they have applied to the High Court for a judicial review of Newham Council's decision to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham.