CRISTIANO RONALDO may have scored the perfect hat-trick for Real Madrid against Bayern Munich, but the real star of the show on Tuesday was Marco Asensio.
The 21-year-old was influential as the Spanish side defeated the Bavarians 6-3 on aggregate to move into the Champions League semi-finals.
But who is Asensio? Football Whispers gives you the lowdown on the midfielder.
Keep up to date with ALL the football news, gossip, transfers and goals on our page plus fixtures, results and live match commentary.
When your manager says you’ve got the best left foot since Lionel Messi, you know you’re pretty special.
And that’s exactly what Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane told Asensio, so it’s fair to say there are big hopes for the midfielder.
Born in Mallorca to a Spanish father and Dutch mother, Asensio was set for football superstardom from the day he was born, named Marco after the legendary Marco van Basten.
By the time he was eight, his mother had already declared that her son would be a Real Madrid player.
Real Madrid supremo Florentino Perez once said: “Your parents met me 12 years ago in Mallorca and they told me: ‘President, this is my son Marco and one day he will play for Real Madrid’.”
His mother died of cancer in 2011 when Asensio was just 15 and each goal he scores is dedicated to her.
He earned his move to Real Madrid thanks to his impressive performances with Mallorca, where after impressing in the B team, the midfielder made his first-team debut in the 2013-14 season aged just 17.
At the same time as Real were pursuing Asensio, he was also a transfer target for Barcelona.
The Catalan giants put in an offer of £1.2million, which was rejected – he ended up moving to the Spanish capital for £3m.
It wasn’t just in Spain where the youngster was turning heads though, Asensio burst onto the international scene at the 2015 under-19 European Championship.
He helped Spain to victory and was named player of the tournament, starting all eight of his country’s games and scoring five times, two of which came in the semi-final against France.
After the tournament, Asensio did actually end up in Catalonia, making the loan move from Madrid to Espanyol, like Kiko Casillas, Jose Callejon and Lucas Vazquez did before him.
That temporary switch only helped his stock rise, playing 34 times in the league, racking up four goals and ten assists.
In fact, only Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Koke, Neymar and Ronaldo provided more La Liga assists last season.
And his displays caught the eye of Vicente del Bosque, who was Spain coach at the time.
He said: “He is the biggest talent in Spain. We were on the verge of taking him to the European Championship.”
He didn’t make it to last summer’s Euros but he did make his senior international debut for his country in June last year in a warm-up match for the tournament against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
And after that, he returned to Real Madrid where he may not yet be a regular starter but he is making a name for himself.
The 21-year-old has made 29 appearances for Los Blancos so far this season, including 17 in the league.
But he has started just eight of those La Liga games, and has been picked by Zidane in his starting XI for just 15 matches in total.
Despite his limited game time, his development does not seem to have been affected.
When he steps onto the pitch, he plays with the confidence of an established player who is in the team week in, week out.
If you hadn’t heard of him, if you saw his goal against Sevilla in January, you would have been very impressed.
It was reminiscent of Gareth Bale’s goal against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final.
He picked the ball up on the edge of his box before showing a surprisingly quick turn of pace to glide past the Sevilla defenders and score from just inside the penalty area.
But it is this month when he has really started to shine.
At the beginning of April, despite Alvaro Morata’s hat-trick, it was Asensio who was man of the match in Madrid’s 4-2 win over Leganes.
He ran the show, dictating the tempo and coming deep to get the ball and influence play.
And he made the difference against Bayern Munich in the first leg of Madrid’s Champions League quarter-final last week.
The former Mallorca player entered the fray just before the hour mark with the game scoreline reading 1-1.
Moments later Javi Martinez picked up his second booking after clipping Ronaldo and that’s when the away side started to turn the screw, with Asensio key to this.
He was almost faultless, completing 21 of the 23 passes he attempted.
But it was the assist for Ronaldo’s winner which he rightly got the credit for, playing a lovely cross putting it on a plate for the superstar to fire home.
Before the second leg, Bayern Munich technical director Michael Reschke joked that transfer chief Jose Angel Sanchez deserved a statue for signing Asensio for just £3m.
And Carlo Ancelotti’s side well and truly knew that yesterday when, after coming on for Karim Benzema in the 64th minute, Asensio sealed Los Blancos’ victory with their fourth on the night with a lovely solo effort.
His cameo, including the goal, showed exactly what he can do – he had three shots, all of which were on target, while he completed 22 out of his 26 passes and two out his three take-ons.
Real Madrid may like to spend big money on Galacticos, but if Asensio’s development continues like it does, they may have already one in their ranks, and he’ll cost them a lot less too.