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Copa del Rey

  • January 18, 2012
  • • 4:00 PM
  • • Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
  • Referee: César Muñiz Fernández
  • • Attendance: 80000
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Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona: Puyol and Abidal complete impressive second-half comeback for Pep Guardiola's side after Ronaldo's early opener

Two goals from unlikely sources give the Catalans a vital advantage going in to the second leg of the Copa del Rey, despite going behind to the Portuguese's early effort.

Second-half goals from Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal canceled out an early Cristiano Ronaldo strike to help Barcelona overcome Real Madrid with a 2-1 victory in the Clasico on Wednesday evening at Santiago Bernabeu.

The match started with Pep Guardiola's side typically dominating possession in the midfield area, but it was the hosts who took the lead through a Ronaldo goal in the 11th minute.

Karim Benzema found a pocket of space inside the center circle and slipped a perfectly weighted pass to the Portuguese down the left channel. Ronaldo then nicked the ball past Gerard Pique with a neat stepover before lashing a left-footed strike through the legs of Pinto, with some question marks over the Barcelona stopper's positioning.

The Catalans came within inches of equalizing just five minutes later when Cesc Fabregas clipped a delicate pass into the Real Madrid box where Alexis Sanchez found space between Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao to loop a header towards goal only to see his attempt his the underside of the crossbar.

The first half was a fiery affair, and the high tempo of the play resulted in some late tackles flying in. Pepe was at the heart of the drama, firstly earning a booking for a late challenge on Busquets, and then going down after a supposed wayward elbow from Pique, which earned the Barca defender a yellow card.

Despite going into the break a goal down, Barcelona had the best of the first half, with Andres Iniesta missing a decent chance inside the box with a left-footed strike and Lionel Messi seeing a near post shot excellently saved by Iker Casillas.

The second half started at lightning pace, and it took Pep Guardiola's side just three minutes to draw level through a captain's goal from Puyol. Xavi's corner kick was dropped deep into the Madrid box and the Barca talisman came flying in to power home an unstoppable diving header to make it 1-1.

Both sides were unlucky not to take the lead in the next 10 minutes, with Iniesta and Karim Benzema both striking the woodwork. The Barcelona maestro struck the bar with a deflected half-volley and the Frenchman clipped the outside of the left post with a glancing header.

Barcelona continued to dominate possession as the game progressed, and its patient passing paid off in the 76th minute when Abidal scored his second-ever goal for the Catalans, with Messi the architect. The Argentine clipped a sensational pass over the top of the Real Madrid defense to the Frenchman, who coolly took the ball down on his chest before stabbing past Casillas.

This result leaves Barcelona going into the return match with a slight advantage over Jose Mourinho's side. The second leg in of this Copa del Rey quarter final clash takes place next Wednesday at Camp Nou. 

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