In pictures: How Chicharito went from punching bag to hero Wednesday at the Bernabéu

With Karim Benzema injured, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez got the start today for Real Madrid against the club’s cross-town rivals, Atlético. Earlier we asked if he would be able to carry the heavy burden and adequately replace his French colleague in such a pivotal Champions League moment.

Here’s how Chicharito’s evening unfolded:

It was a clear night, and as usual, Chicharito would not be rushed into the occasion. This game wasn’t about himself, or his transfer value, his options, or even his pride. This moment was for everyone else who had fought for him and believed in him. This was for them, and maybe a little bit for his new lady friend.

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But then the whistle blew and it was as if the gods had forsaken him. “Why are you doing this to me? In front of all these people yelling obscenities. Didn’t you just see me on my knees?”

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Then came the wailing. It was the same sound Charlie Brown makes as he flies helplessly through the air, seconds after welling up with confidence, knowing that this time he would make contact with the football.

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”What have I done to deserve this? It’s only the first half. I’ve been beaten, throttled by grown men in front of millions. I’m missing too many chances.” He wondered, ”Why always me?“ without thinking of the legal ramifications of stealing Mario Balotelli’s catch phrase.Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 3.24.29 PM

And then another chance came. Chicharito could see where he needed to meet the ball. He lept into the air, and just when he thought, “Ah, this is the one,” he felt two toned man hands grab him like he was a younger brother at a bullying camp, hurling him to the turf.Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 3.32.52 PM

The second half couldn’t be worse, but shortly after the whistle blew, he knew that it actually could be worse. The score was still 0-0. A goal for either team would break things wide open. But it never looked like Chicharron would be the one to find the net.

”I just can’t catch a break!” he thought, just after missing yet another chance..Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 3.52.40 PM

And then another opportunity presented itself. “Ooooh, there it is! There’s the header!”

But Atleti defender Miranda had other ideas, one of which included trying to go through Chicharito’s person in a futile attempt to pretend to get the ball. It was a risky decision. But ultimately it paid off.Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 3.57.00 PM

At Chicharito’s expense. Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 3.59.41 PM

And then, right as the teams were thinking about extra time — with Atleti down to 10 men — the ball fortuitously found itself on Chicharito’s foot, right on top of Atleti’s penalty spot. This time he didn’t miss. It was the 88th minute. The stadium errupted. But Chicharito humbly took the high road, laying down to rest, to be at peace, just as he did before kickoff.

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Chicharito did it. And despite 88 minutes of squandering chances and getting brutalized, the Manchester United-loanee prevailed. Chicharito’s evening of trolling was over. He may not have answered all the questions, but he answered the one that mattered.Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.32.21 PM

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