Wednesday had been a frustrating day for Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
Given a chance to start against Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals with injuries to Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, Chicharito turned in a workmanlike shift, but only had a slew of near-makes and bruises to show for it. Until crunch time.
Chicharito touched home a close-range opportunity in the 88th minute after a short cross from Cristiano Ronaldo to give Real Madrid the 1-0 win it needed to advance to the Champions League semifinals.
Ronaldo had worked a nifty one-two combination with James Rodriguez before toe-poking the ball to the center of the box. After misses from either side of the area, Chicharito made no mistake from the center, beating a helpless Jan Oblak and keeping the defending champions alive in the quest for their 11th European championship.
Chicharito, who will reportedly spurn MLS's advances to remain in Europe this summer, is on loan with Real Madrid for the season from Manchester United. His season hasn't been nearly as fruitful as he would have hoped, but Real Madrid might not still be in the Champions League without his contribution.
Real Madrid is joined by Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus in a who's who of a final four on the continent.