Match Report: Clinical Cristiano Ronaldo outshines Lionel Messi to fire Manchester United warning
Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 3 (Real Madrid win 4-2 on aggregate)
Wednesday 27 February 2013
An inspired display from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid book their place in the Copa del Rey final as Barcelona's uncertain form continued.
Less than a week after losing 2-0 to Milan in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, stand-in coach Jordi Roura saw his side outclassed again on a frustrating night for Lionel Messi. By contrast, his arch-rival for the mantle of world's greatest player scored either side of half-time as Jose Mourinho's team warmed up for next week's trip to face Manchester United at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, who was at the Nou Camp, will have heeded the warning.
"Without taking anything away from the work of the rest of the coaching staff there is no doubt that we miss Tito Vilanova," the Barça president, Sandro Rosell, admitted. "He is our coach, our leader." Vilanova is still in New York recovering from throat surgery.
After the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, Victor Valdes was replaced by Jose Pinto in the Barcelona goal as one of seven changes from the side who came from behind to beat Seville on Saturday.
Inside the opening two minutes Messi screwed his shot just wide of the post on the turn. They would regret that miss as Real took the lead with their first opportunity after Ronaldo was brought down in the box by a careless challenge from Gerard Pique. The Portuguese dusted himself down and stepped up to fire home for the sixth successive match at the Nou Camp and seventh successive Clasico.
A Messi free-kick that fizzed wide of the post was the closest Barça came to drawing level before the break. Yet any hopes that the second half might bring a change in fortune were quickly washed away as brilliant footwork from Angel di Maria bamboozled Carles Puyol and Ronaldo tucked away the rebound.
Raphaël Varane's header from a corner in the 68th minute then ended any hopes of a Barcelona comeback, even though Jordi Alba grabbed a late consolation.
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