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Real Madrid reaches Champions League quarterfinals, but defender Antonio Rüdiger says the team won’t be celebrating

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Real Madrid booked its place in the Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-1 draw at home to RB Leipzig, scraping through 2-1 on aggregate.

But so disappointed were the team with such an underwhelming performance, defender Antonio Rüdiger said there would be no celebrations for reaching the last eight.

“They played well and we played bad. Simple,” he told CBS Sports. “I don’t think we were thinking about the first game, we were just sloppy. We were slow, zero intensity, we didn’t get in the challenges and, in the Champions League, you can get punished for this.

“At the end of the day, you always have to try and keep your calm … you don’t need to lose your head. They did well, they pressed us behind, they made us stay behind and we didn’t find the right answer today.

“The lesson is that you cannot start and finish a match like that in the Champions League. You have to be switched on for 90 minutes – and plus. We don’t celebrate [reaching the quarterfinals] because it was not a good performance, but we are through.”

After losing 1-0 at home in a tight first leg, RB Leipzig was a team on a mission at the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday and thoroughly outplayed Los Blancos for much of the 90 minutes.

Chance after chance came and went for the German side, but it was unable to break the deadlock and level the aggregate scoreline.

The team was eventually made to pay for its profligacy in front of goal as Real Madrid caught Leipzig on the counterattack after 65 minutes, with Jude Bellingham bursting forward and setting up Vinícius Jr. for an emphatic finish.

However, Leipzig finally got the goal its efforts deserved just three minutes later as Willi Orbán stooped to head home David Raum’s low cross.

Leipzig outplayed Real for much of the game. - Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images
Leipzig outplayed Real for much of the game. - Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images

As the clock ticked into the final few minutes, it was Los Merengues that were forced to hang on for the draw, fending off wave after wave of Leipzig attacks.

Dani Olmo came within inches of a goal that would have taken the tie to extra time in stoppage time, but his clever lob hit the top of the crossbar with goalkeeper Andriy Lunin watching on helplessly.

After the game, Rüdiger admitted the team “suffered a lot” throughout the match.

Bellingham echoed his teammate’s comments, admitting it was “not the best performance” but was proud of the team for being able to win ugly.

“Not at our best tonight,” he told TNT Sports. “As a team, individually, for myself as well, but it’s one of those games where you can’t always win playing beautiful football; sometimes, you have to grind them out, defend well at times, make important blocks and then go up the other end and use the chances that you have.

“We did that tonight with Vini, so pleased to be through but not satisfied. You look at the game and they’ve drawn 1-1, but it’s not like we’ve played a really poor team. We’ve played a brilliant Leipzig team that came to play, that put it on us from the first minute, so this idea we didn’t have a great game is true, but they’re also a very good team.”

The draw for the Champions League quarterfinals, semifinals and final takes place on March 15.

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