Mourinho’s debut final ends in spectacular fashion as Madrid require extra time to end their four year trophy drought...
Real Madrid were crowned Copa del Rey champions for the 18th time after defeating Barcelona 1-0aet as Mourinho led the Capital side to their first trophy since 2008.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s tremendous header in the first period of extra-time proved enough to separate the two sides come the full-time whistle after valiant defending late on from los Blancos.
The opening ten minutes were fragmented as the players clashed bringing stoppages to the game, with the Blaugrana keeping the ball as per usual but it was Madrid who had the first sight of goal.
Mesut Oezil chipped into the path of Ronaldo but the Portuguese’s touch made the angle too acute for a shot on target; his shot was going wide before Mascherano hacked it straight back to Madrid.
Oezil worked space for a cross and it nearly met by his international teammate, Sami Khedira but the German’s flicked header could only take the ball away from target.
Free-kicks continued to dominate the opening exchanges and as the tensions of the game grew the referee, Alberto Undiano, was required to control a ruckus between the two sides.
Football began to grow in stature as the game progressed with Ronaldo forcing Jose Pinto into a smart save. Los Blancos to broke-away resulting in CR7 striking low from an acute angle but the Barca ‘keeper was able to palm it away.
Pepe then raced in on Sergio Busquets, who had reclaimed the loose ball, and slid into the Blaugrana midfielder only for Alberto Undiano to refuse Barcelona’s claim of a second yellow card to be shown to the Portuguese man.
Real Madrid suddenly created true football class minutes before the break through Pepe when Oezil swung in a beautiful cross. The Portuguese man leapt higher than Dani Alves, only to watch as it rebounded off the inside of the upright and away to safety.
The second-half brought about an early penalty appeal for the Catalan side when Andreas Iniesta tumbled into the area but Alberto Undiano signalled for the Spanish maestro to get back to his feet.
Barcelona began to get into their rhythm with Lionel Messi and Dani Alves combining on the edge of the Real Madrid penalty area only for the Madrid defenders to crowd out the Argentine international and clear the danger.
Barcelona thought they’d taken the lead in the 69th minute when Messi kept his balance to play in Pedro whose first time shot nestled in the back of the net only for the No. 17 to notice the offside flag on the touchline mid-celebration.
Messi then brought a fine save from Iker Casillas, who had to flung himself low to his right to palm the ball away.
Pedro became the latest player to test los Blancos’ keeper when his deft chip seemed to be creeping in at the far post only for Casillas to claw the ball away.
Barca hit their stride when they strung a passage of play together that was a spectacle. Iniesta was the man on the end of the move and worked room to shoot inside the Madrid area but Casillas was equal to it again. The Spanish No. 1 made a stunning fingertip save to push his international teammate’s effort around the far post.
Madrid came closest late on to supply the winner, though Ronaldo and then Di Maria. The Portugal international had a brilliant chance after Emmanuel Adebayor’s through ball but he took too long allowing Dani Alves to recover and block the shot.
Di Maria then let fly from twenty-yards only for Pinto to make a wonderful diving save to ensure the tie required a further thirty minutes before a winner was decided.
Extra-time began in typically cagey fashion as neither side mustered a clear cut chance until the 97th minute when Madrid countered at pace. Alonso pierced the Barca defence with a beautiful pass which CR7 latched onto only for the striker to drag his shot wide of the far post.
Ronaldo made a glorious amends for his previous misses with a bullet header from Di Maria’s cross. The Argentine played a wonderful one-two with Marcelo before hitting a first time cross to Ronaldo who fired it back across Pinto, leaving the ‘keeper helpless.
Pep Guardiola opted to introduce Seydou Kieta and Ibrahim Afellay in search of a dramatic equaliser with the latter replacing Villa, whose run of goalless games stretches to 11 but neither could make the impact the Barca coach needed.
Madrid had a chance to settle the game two minutes from the final whistle when Adebayor brought a great save from Pinto.
The drama continued late on when Di Maria was sent off late on for a second bookable offence gifting Barcelona one last chance to take the game into penalties but Madrid cleared to the sound of the final whistle.
Jose Mourinho’s debut final for Real Madrid will be welcomed boost ahead of their Champions League semi-final tie against the Catalan giants.
The two-legged affair will be the dramatic conclusion of the four part Clasico and Madrid will feel confident after tonight’s positive result against Barcelona.