Real Madrid beat Barcelona to win Spanish Cup

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Real Madrid defeated Barcelona 1-0 after extra-time to win the Spanish Cup on Wednesday, a timely victory just one week ahead of the bitter rivals’ Champions League semi-final showdown.

An extra-time header from Cristiano Ronaldo proved decisive as Jose Mourinho’s Real clinched their 18th King’s Cup.

Last weekend Real ended a run of five straight defeats against Barca with a 1-1 draw in the league but at the Mestalla Stadium they went one better with their first trophy since 2008.

Real had the better of the first half before Barcelona took control but they were unable to find a way through. Finally, in extra-time, Ronaldo broke the deadlock with powerful header.

Now there still remain two more mouth-watering matches between the rivals in the Champions League on April 27 and May 3.

As expected Carles Puyol was not fit to start for Barcelona after picking up a hamstring strain in his return at the weekend which followed three months on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Instead as a week ago in the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk, Javier Mascherano was preferred to link up alongside Gerard Pique at the back.

The surprise in the Real formation was that Mourinho chose to play without a typical centre forward and instead lined up Mesut Ozil with Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria in a three-pronged attack.

At the Bernabeu at the weekend, Real played a defensive game but this time it was a different looking side who set out their intent to attack from the start.

Xavi had a shot from distance but Barca were unable to play their usual quick-passing game and both sides looked close to losing their composure in the frenetic atmosphere.

It was Real who were posing the greater threat.

Ronaldo took the ball too wide and his shot across the goal was cleared off the line by Mascherano.

Ozil fired wide from the edge of the area and then Ronaldo again from a tight angle saw his shot saved by keeper Jose Pinto.

The combative Pepe deployed in midfield was doing an excellent job to break-up Barca’s play although he had to be cautious after picking up a yellow card.

In an all action display he went within inches of scoring with a fine diving header which came back off the post.

However, it appeared as though Real had run out of steam after the break as Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez took control of the midfield.

Pedro Rodriguez and Messi both shot wide while Real brought on Emmanuel Adebayor as they tried to change the direction of the game.

It was keeper Iker Casillas who kept Real in the match with several vital interceptions against Messi and Pedro before an excellent save to deny Iniesta.

Di Maria just had time to see a shot tipped over by Pinto before the referee signalled 30 minutes more.

In extra time Ronaldo seemed to find another gear as he first fired narrowly wide and then went on to score the winner.

Di Maria and Marcelo combined well down the left wing before the Argentine crossed for Ronaldo to head home at the back post.

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