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The Italian was delighted with the way in which his troops responded to the unavailability of their star forward, praising Gareth Bale for the "most important goal" of his career

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says that the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo helped to motivate his side in their Copa del Rey victory over Barcelona on Wednesday.

The Portugal international missed the Clasico clash through injury but saw wingers Angel Di Maria and Gareth Bale both score as Los Blancos ran out 2-1 winners at Mestalla.

"We deserved the title," the Italian told reporters. "We pressed high up the pitch and we took advantage on the counter. We played really well and all the players worked hard so congratulations to them.

"Cristiano's absence motivated the players," he added. "It made them work even harder. They all did well. You have to play as a team to beat Barcelona and we did that.

"Barcelona tried but we knew how to play against them. We needed to be compact and we were. We will take strength from this for the other two competitions."

Madrid face Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League later in April and are still in the race for La Liga, although Atletico Madrid lead the Primera Division by three points with five rounds remaining.

Barca, meanwhile, look likely to end the season empty-handed following this loss, their European elimination and their defeat at Granada on Saturday which saw the Catalans lose ground in La Liga.

However, Ancelotti remarked: "I don't think their cycle is finished. They played a good game and, even though things haven't gone that well for them this season, they will fight until the end in La Liga and remain a dangerous rival."

The Italian preferred to praise his players as a group but believes that Bale's winner was the most significant strike of the Welshman's career to date.

"He played a very good game and it's definitely his most important goal but all of the players did well," he enthused. "It was a fantastic night and the fans from both teams made it an extraordinary spectacle."

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