Isco thanks Real Madrid supporters as Karim Benzema's skill earns praise
Real Madrid playmaker Isco said his team had been happy to brave pouring rain and whistles from the Atletico Madrid fans to share their passage to the Champions League final with the visiting supporters.
Madrid's players returned to the Calderon pitch 15 minutes after the final whistle, diving together across the slippy surface towards their own crowd high in one corner of the Estadio Vicente Calderon before unused substitute Nacho spread a Madrid flag on the ground.
"It was a small touch that the fans deserved after the downpour at the end," Isco told AS. "They held out through it like real stars. It's not difficult for us to go out and say thank you, because, at the end of the day, everything we do is for them."
Atletico's players also re-emerged from the Calderon tunnel to salute their fans after the game ended. Earlier, the home support had made incredible noise as Atletico went 2-0 ahead through Saul Niguez's header and Antoine Griezmann's penalty, and had the holders on the ropes.
That was until Karim Benzema somehow evaded three Rojiblanco defenders before Isco grabbed what was a crucial away goal.
"At the start of the game we showed what was possible," Atletico captain Gabi told Spanish TV. "It was the minimum that our fans asked of us, just what we had to do. The first half was marvellous, but a magic play from Benzema took away our dream. We did not drop our hands, I am proud of this team."
Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane hailed Benzema's skill in his postmatch news conference.
"I did not think he could do it," Zidane said with a smile. "We were talking after the game and I asked him how he got out of there. He could not tell me either."
Jose Maria Gimenez was one of the three Atletico defenders who were left in Benzema's wake. "A lapse in concentration condemned us, and that changed the game," Gimenez said afterwards. "With three defenders he should not be able to escape. It should not have happened. We will learn from it."
Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said that Bezema could decide games on his own when on form. "I saw him get away from them, and I don't know how as there were lots of Rojiblanco shirts," Ramos said. "When he is inspired he can make the difference in a world class way. And today was one of those days."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan