Soccer-Silva penalty save down to pure luck, says Real keeper Lunin


Soccer Football - Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Manchester City v Real Madrid - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 17, 2024 Real Madrid's Andriy Lunin saves a penalty taken by Manchester City's Bernardo Silva during the penalty shootout REUTERS/Molly Darlington TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin was their penalty shootout hero as they beat Manchester City on Wednesday to reach the Champions League semi-finals but he said his save from Bernardo Silva's spot-kick was down to pure luck.

Real midfielder Federico Valverde was named UEFA's man-of-the-match, but Lunin had made a strong case to be handed the award after making two saves in their 4-3 shootout win after an inspired performance as they drew their quarter-final second leg 1-1.

Silva's penalty was struck tamely straight down the middle of the goal but Lunin said that a decision taken before the shootout with Real's coaches enabled him to make what turned out to be an easy save.

"I needed to take a risk with one of the kicks, we picked one (to stay in the middle) and thank goodness it worked out in our favour," Lunin told Movistar Plus+ with a sigh of relief.

"It's an away Champions League game and we went through a lot of suffering... but I'm very grateful to the team for everything they've fought for. I can't imagine myself running like my team mates did today."

The 25-year-old Ukraine keeper was forced to wait for his chance at Real, having been behind Belgium star Thibaut Courtois in the pecking order.

Before this season, he had made only nine Spanish league appearances for the club since signing from Zorya Luhansk in 2018.

He spent his first two seasons in Spain on loan at Leganes, Valladolid and Oviedo, but after Courtois tore his ACL earlier this season, he was given the chance to battle for a starting spot with Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had been signed on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea.

Lunin eventually asserted himself as first choice and his performance on Wednesday will have gone a long way towards proving to fans and pundits that he deserved his chance.

"There are games that you have to suffer, that you have to overcome the challenges, that you can't always play with the ball and be the best team on the pitch. Tonight was like that," Lunin said.

"For me it has been a great experience. I'm exhausted, it's the first time in my career that I play a game like this, 120 minutes, penalties, the pressure and the responsibility. It's hard to explain the feeling."

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Toby Davis)

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