Barcelona book return to site of their most famous triumph

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 1 (Barcelona win 3-1 on aggregate)

Barcelona are back at Wembley 19 years after their famous "Dream Team" lifted the club's first European Cup there. With no Jose Mourinho in the dugout and 22 players left on the pitch at the end there was a surreal feel to the last of the four clasicos, but one thing was as it should be – the world's best team will be playing in the world's biggest club game on 28 May.

Watching the drama unfold from the Real Madrid's team hotel, Mourinho, who elected not to attend the match, will point to more refereeing injustice. Had Gonzalo Higuain's goal not been ruled out for an adjudged push from Cristiano Ronaldo on Javier Mascherano when the game was goalless, Real may have come back into the tie.

But having been foiled in the first half by a superb string of Iker Casillas saves Barça immediately took the lead in the 54th minute with Pedro scoring from Andres Iniesta's pass.

In truth the game was won in the first leg by Lionel Messi. Even those undecided about who was more to blame for the unsightly incidents that marred the game at the Bernabeu last week will rejoice that he will play in the season's showpiece final.

Real were better than they were at home a week ago and Marcelo equalised on the night but they, and possibly the referee, had made their mistakes in the first game. Against football's finest there was no way they were ever going to become the first team to beat Pep Guardiola's side by more than a two-goal margin at the Nou Camp.

Mourinho had laid the foundations for his non-appearance last week when he wrote off Real's chances of turning the tie around. Such was the lack of conviction among the Madrid fans they had sent back 3,000 of their ticket allocation.

The 1,600 travelling supporters who did brave the conditions were up in the gods as the pre-match rain came down. A week's worth had fallen in the hour leading up to the game but that did not stop Barcelona briefly turning on the sprinklers – the pitch could not be too wet for the home side it seemed.

The omens for Real were as grim as the conditions. Never had a side come back from a two-goal deficit away from home in a semi-final. There was at least a different attitude from Madrid in the second leg.

Real started the game pressurising Barcelona far higher up the pitch than they had in the first game. Why they had waited for the second leg to do so only Mourinho in the nearby team hotel knew.

Ronaldo looked especially motivated and he flew past three defenders down the left and tried to send Kaka away as Real made the early running. The ball was holding up in surface water but the pass still ran too long for the Brazilian.

Messi raced clear at the other end and was brought down by Ricardo Carvalho who became the first booking of the night. Referee Frank de Bleeckere indicated it had been the Portuguese defender's second offence, mistaking him for Raul Albiol who he had already lectured.

Real were even enjoying spells of possession, but leaving space behind they were subject to Messi-driven counter attacks. The Argentine was flattened by Lassana Diarra as he went through on goal only for the referee to wave play on. Ronaldo saw less of the ball after the bright start while Messi continued to threaten. He drew a fine save from Casillas who then had to keep out David Villa's effort spectacularly after Messi had played him in.

Casillas' one-man resistance continued to half time – the Spain goalkeeper brilliantly keeping out a low drive from Messi. Barcelona had peppered Real's goal with eight first-half shots and only Casillas had stopped them securing their place at Wembley before half-time.

Despite the improved performance the visitors had not mustered a shot and with another late challenge right on half-time from Carvalho they could easily have been down to 10 men before the break.

The only man coming on at half-time was regular Nou Camp pitch invader Jimmy Jump who had presumably been planning an assault on Mourinho long before he was banned for the second leg. He made instead for Ronaldo before being dragged away by around a small team of stewards.

A flare was then thrown from a section of Barcelona supporters up into an area holding Real fans and on the pitch came the incidents that decided the game.

Higuain had the ball in the net but Ronaldo had appeared to knock over Mascherano and so the goal was ruled out despite replays appearing to show Ronaldo had been pushed by Gerard Pique. Barça's next attack saw Iniesta slide a sublime pass through to Pedro who beat Casillas to make it 3-0 on aggregate. Madrid's first reaction was a physical one. Emanuel Adebayor who had come on after the goal picked up a yellow card and Diarra joined him in the De Bleeckere's book.

But then came a more positive response as Angel Di Maria rattled a shot on to the bar and Marcelo swooped to convert the rebound. Real were back to square one needing two goals to go through – two goals that never looked like coming.

As De Bleeckere blew the final whistle, Barcelona players celebrated reaching the final by giving Eric Abidal the bumps. He had come on at the end less than two months after an operation on a liver tumour.

It was an uplifting end to an at times sorry saga of matches. Madrid outraged again, Mourinho absent and Barcelona at Wembley.

Man of the match: Xavi.

Match rating: 5/10.

Referee: F de Bleeckere (Bel).

Attendance: 90,000.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links