Zinedine Zidane hailed Real Madrid’s comeback against Wolfsburg as the “best night” of his fledgling coaching career.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick saw Real overturn a two-goal deficit from the first leg to progress to the Champions League semi-finals.
The Portuguese forward – hailed as “the best player in the world” by his coach – scored twice in the space of 88 first-half seconds before securing a 3-2 aggregate victory from a 77th-minute free-kick.
Real boss Zidane, who replaced Rafael Benitez in January, has led Real to a Primera Division victory against Barcelona in the Nou Camp but insisted Tuesday’s quarter-final second leg comeback was the highlight so far.
He told marca.com: “It has been my greatest thrill as a coach. It was not simple – it might seem it was when you see the score but it was not.
“It is incredible after a 2-0 in the first leg. The players have played amazing. It’s my best night as a coach so far.”
On Ronaldo, who has now scored 93 Champions League goals, Zidane added: “Cristiano is proving that he is the best player in the world. He truly is a special player. It is clear that not everyone can score three goals.
“At the same time he needs the whole team and what he wants above all is to talk about what everyone has done together.”
Ronaldo returned the admiration for his boss, saying: “I really like Zidane – his personality, his way of coaching. As a player I love it .”
And when asked who he wanted to face in the last four, the Portugal captain said: “I want Benfica. If a Portuguese team qualifies then I want to play in Portugal.”
Ronaldo opened the scoring from close range in the 16th minute before glancing in Toni Kroos’ corner soon after.
Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking was frustrated his team were not able to ride the early storm as they attempted to reach the last four for the first time.
He told his club’s website: “We didn’t go about the first 20 minutes as we should have. We knew what we had to expect, but when you are on the pitch, it’s only then you see what you have to deal with.
“After the two goals, we got into the game better, had more possession and had a couple of opportunities of our own. What we lacked was the ultimate determination.
“In the second-half, Real waited for their opening, which was our chance to hit, but we didn’t manage that.
“What’s very frustrating is to lose 0-3 having conceded two goals from set-pieces.”