First blood to Real as Ronaldo seals Cup win in extra-time
Barcelona 0 Real Madrid 1 (aet; 0-0 at 90 min)
Thursday 21 April 2011
Cristiano Ronaldo gave Jose Mourinho his first trophy as Real Madrid coach last night with a dramatic extra-time winner in the Copa del Rey final. Ronaldo had ran Barcelona ragged in the first half of normal time but his scoring touch appeared to have deserted him until he rose majestically at the far post in the first period of injury time to win Real their first trophy of the season, and Mourinho his first as coach at the Bernabeu.
The Portuguese coach had played the forward through the middle and the decision paid off when he scored a classic centre-forward's header to decide a match that Madrid dominated in the first half but so nearly let slip away from them in the second half.
"It's a very important title – we're going to enjoy it," Ronaldo said afterwards. "Mourinho has done a good job. He's helped us a lot. Barça played very well but, as you know, the team who scores wins."
It was after quarter of an hour that Mesut Ozil set Ronaldo up with his first chance after dawdling over a opportunity himself in the centre of the penalty area. He played the pass out to Real's No 7 whose shot was saved from a tighter angle. The pair combined again with the Portugal international running on to a lofted pass from Ozil but shooting weakly and allowing Jose Pinto to make the save.
Barcelona were enjoying none of their customary dominance and as another Ozil pass sent Ronaldo sprinting down the right he raced away to again test Pinto with a fierce shot.
Sergi Busquets summed up the way Barcelona were being knocked out of their stride by Real as he gave away passes in midfield. Ahead of him Pedro, David Villa and Lionel Messi suffered without service. Tempers flared between Spain team-mates Alvaro Arbeloa and Villa but it was Pepe who went harshly into the referee's book for a challenge that looked no worse than those before it that had gone unpunished.
Mourinho's furious reaction to Xabi Alonso taking a free-kick short underlined Madrid's game plan to get the ball forward early but there was quality about their direct approach.
Barcelona came back into the game just before half-time, forcing two corners but that was the cue for Madrid to so nearly break the deadlock when Pepe crashed a header on to the bar after Ozil and Ronaldo had combined down the right.
Ronaldo had set up Ozil with a pass made with his back, to the delight of the Madrid fans behind the goal Real attacked in the first half. They were now making more noise than the Barcelona fans, who had done their best to drown out the Spanish anthem at the start of the game.
Barcelona were a different side after the break and only a perfectly timed tackle from Ricardo Carvalho stopped Villa wriggling through. Messi was then brought down by Sami Khedira but he fired the free-kick into the wall.
Messi was now far more involved, while at the other end Ronaldo looked increasingly isolated as Ozil tired. The Argentine was booked as he charged down a quickly taken Madrid free-kick and he blasted wide as Barça looked more likely to open the scoring.
Pedro looked to have put them ahead, running onto Messi's pass and finishing past his international team-mate Iker Casillas, only for the linesman to flag for offside. Mourinho's reaction was immediate with Ozil replaced by Emmanuel Adebayor.
Casillas was by now far the busier keeper, saving from Messi, spectacularly from Villa, and then Andres Iniesta, who learnt yesterday that he will not be suspended for next week's Champions League semi-final first leg between the two sides. Messi had another chance but the ball was scooped off his toe by Marcelo before he could test Real's keeper.
When Real did break away they suddenly lacked the legs and the ideas to make it pay with Sergio Ramos running into trouble when he might have fed Ronaldo, who himself spurned a late chance. But with extra time came his golden opportunity and he took it. First he shot narrowly wide after being put through by Alonso but then he buried Angel di Maria's cross with his head to score his 42nd goal of the season past Pinto and send the white half of the Mestalla into raptures.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Pinto; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano (Maxwell, 119); Busquets (Keita, 109), Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Villa (Afellay, 106), Messi
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Carvalho (Garay, 119),Marcelo; Pepe, Khedira (Granero, 105), Xabi Alonso; Di Maria, Ozil (Adebayor, 71), Ronaldo.
Referee U Mallenco.
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