Ronaldo Header Gets Real Madrid The Spanish CupValencia, Spain, Apr 21: An extra time header by Ronaldo gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Barcelona on Wednesday night and the Copa del Rey. The second Clasico was held at the Mestalla. Both sides
Valencia, Spain, Apr 21: An extra time header by Ronaldo gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Barcelona on Wednesday night and the Copa del Rey.
The second Clasico was held at the Mestalla. Both sides relied frequently on violence to control their rival, but the outstanding performance of both Jose Manuel Pinto and Iker Casillas made the game last 120 minutes.
Jose Mourinho managed once again to nullify Messi without conceding much offensive power. The speed of Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria forced Gerard Pique not to join the attack, for as soon as he crossed the midfield, Real Madrid started an electric counter-attack.
Cristiano Ronaldo was close from finding the opener at the 11th minute, but Javier Mascherano cleared the ball in the goal line, stopping the Portuguese from scoring his 7th goal in the Copa del Rey.
It was the single most dangerous moment of the first half until the last minute, when Mesut Ozil sent a perfect cross that Pepe headed brutally against Jose Manuel Pinto's goal, but it was not meant to be, and the post stopped Real Madrid from finishing the first half one goal ahead.
Barcelona dominated the first half, securing 64% possession of the ball, but Pep Guardiola's Blaugranas struggled endlessly to break through Madrid's packed midfield. Three consecutive corner kicks at the end of the first half could have given Barcelona an early advantage, but Iker Casillas denied their every attempt.
A superb, tireless Angel Di Maria lead Madrid's attack throughout the first 115 minutes of the game, but he was sent off in the last minutes of the game as he challenged Lio Messi.
Mesut Ozil was the architect of most of Merengue's offenses, but Jose Mourinho missed the presence of a central striker, and the German international finally made way for Emmanuel Adebayor.
The second half offered much more excitement than the first 45 minutes of the game. Andres Iniesta fell inside the box as he tried to build an offense with David Villa, but the referee ignored the challenge. Three minutes later, Pedro followed up with a dangerous shot from inside the area, but the ball went wide.
In the 68th minute, Lio Messi outwitted three Madrid defender and assisted Pedro, who sent the ball straight into the net. The goal was annulled nevertheless as the Spanish international striker was in an illegal possession as he received Messi's assistance.
Mourinho made the right call by changing his tactical scheme on the 70th minute, as Adebayor gave more unity and consistency to Merengue's attack. The partnership of the Togolese international with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria did bear fruits, and kept Pinto constantly busy throughout the last 20 minutes of the second half.
But Barcelona was growing, and Pep Guardiola wanted to finish the game the sooner the better. Iker Casillas played a major role in the last 15 minutes of the game, deflecting three dangerous shots from Pedro and Iniesta.
Angel Di Maria shot last in the second half, with a powerful ball from right outside the area, that Pinto managed to control.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid made enough merits to secure the game in the 30 minutes of additional time. Cristiano Ronaldo warned first at the 98th minute as Xabi Alonso assisted the Portuguese with a long pass that broke Barcelona's defensive line. The Portuguese crossed the ball, that went millimeters wide.
Four minutes later, Cristiano Ronaldo redeemed himself scoring the opener and winning goal: Angel Di Maria and Marcelo made it past Barcelona's defense, the Argentinean lifted the ball and Ronaldo's top-class header made it past Pinto's goal.
Jose Mourinho knew his boys had to hold off for only 15 minutes to claim the Spanish Cup for the first time in 18 years. Sami Khedira was replaced by Esteban Granero, while Guardiola introduced fresh legs with Seydou Keita and ibrahim Afellay joining for the last quarter of an hour.
Wednesday night was the second meeting in four days between Barcelona and Real Madrid.The game will be played at Estadia Mestalla in Valencia.The match held on Saturday ended up in a 1-1 draw at Santiago Bernabeu.