• Friday May 12, 2017

    Navas heroics help keep Real Madrid on UCL title course

    Costa Rica international goalkeeper Keylor Navas could win his second UEFA Champions League crown with Real Madrid, when it meets Juventus in the 2016/17 final next month.(Photo: Mexsport)

    MADRID – Costa Rica international goalkeeper Keylor Navas came up huge for defending champion Real Madrid on Wednesday, making two key saves in a 2-1 loss to host Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal.

    Despite the setback, the Blancos captured the series, 4-2 on aggregate, and will face Juventus in the final on June 3 in Cardiff, Wales.

    Navas acknowledged Atletico Madrid’s quality and effort, but was confident that he and his teammates would survive an early two-goal deficit.

    “We knew it was going to be a difficult match,” the 30-year-old custodian told UEFA TV. “They scored two very quick goals, something that we did not want. But I think the personality of each one of us emerged, knowing that we have to be calm, and that we had faith in ourselves…to go out and play our game and the goal came, which was a very good play. It was a goal that gave us that tranquility.”

    In the 66th minute, however, it was Navas who remained calm in order to make a pair in less than two seconds. He first denied Yannick Caraassco’s right-footed rocket from 12-yards out by getting low quickly. Then, miraculously, he bounced up on the edge of the six-yard box to somehow turn away Kevin Gameiro’s header off the rebound.

    “It was a very fast play,” said Navas about the quick-fire sequence. “When I got the first ball, I tried to get up as soon as possible. When I saw another ball coming from the Gameiro header, I tried to get out my hand, my head, my whole body, anything that was possible to get the ball. And, well, always when a job is well done you have to be happy.”

    With the emotion of overcoming a local rival in the rearview mirror, Navas is looking forward to a second consecutive trip to the decider, which could give Real Madrid its 12th European crown.

    “We have it there in front of us,” he finished. “We know that it (repeating) has never been achieved. You have to respect the opponent that we have, but we have all the hope in the world and all that desire we have shown until now to be able to win the title. Hopefully, history is made.”

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