‘You never thought you’d say Joselu to the rescue’

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Image caption: Joselu made one senior appearance for Real Madrid in both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons before returning to the Bernabeu for the 2023-24 campaign

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.”
‘Two of the biggest goals of his career’
Image caption: Joselu was signed by then Stoke boss Mark Hughes in a £5.75m move from Hannover in June 2015
For fans of Stoke and Newcastle, they will be surprised to see Joselu scoring twice in a Champions League semi-final after he failed to impress in England.
He only scored four times in 27 games for the Potters in 2015-16 and was then loaned to Deportivo La Coruna for the following campaign, before moving to Newcastle in a £5m transfer.
However, he scored just seven goals in 52 matches for Newcastle over two seasons before a move back to Spain but has reached double figures in every campaign since – three years at Alaves, one at Espanyol and now at Real.
With Real 3-2 behind on aggregate, Joselu, who has played 10 times for Spain, scoring five goals, came on with nine minutes to go – and became the match-winner.
Former England winger Steve McManaman, a two-time Champions League winner with Real, speaking on TNT Sports, said: “You never thought you’d say ‘Joselu to the rescue’. He’s been criticised quite a bit for the chances he’s missed but who cares when he produces a moment like this.
“We spoke about who is going to be the hero of the evening, and in the end it is Joselu. There is always a standout story and that is the one – score at the weekend, they win the league and now he scores two of the biggest goals of his career.”
Ex-England midfielder Owen Hargreaves, a Champions League winner at Bayern in 2001, added: “Joselu has been terrific for them off the bench this season. I don’t care where he has played, it’s instinct.
“The goal summed up this Real Madrid team, they find a goal in the moment.”

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