Jose Mourinho celebrates his 49th birthday today, out of the Spanish Cup and still without a win at the Nou Camp.
His team delivered their best performance against Barcelona since he took over in 2010 but that seemed to have made little different to his mood. Real Madrid drew 2-2 in Catalonia last night and went out 4-3 on aggregate. He revealed his players now believed it was impossible to beat Barcelona.
"That is what I heard in the dressing room" he said and, when asked if the reference was to another red card and a ruled-out goal, he snapped: "You will have to ask them." Sergio Ramos was sent off late in the game and had a second goal ruled out for a shirt pull. "I have been here with Inter and with Chelsea, it's nothing new for me," he added.
More than the victims of refereeing decisions, Real suffered in reality because they failed to take their chances. "Sometimes, teams score out of nothing. We made chances and did not take them," Mourinho added. Real had five shots on target in the first half including one from Mesut Ozil that crashed off Jose Pinto's bar, but they went in at half-time 2-0 down.
As is so often the case, the difference between the two teams was Lionel Messi. He had seen his fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuain spawn a hat-trick of chances in the first 30 minutes for Real.
Pedro provided the lethal finish but it was Messi's run that created the first goal – charging at the heart of the Real defence, drawing three defenders and sliding the ball to the unmarked winger. Dani Alves doubled the lead on the night with a rocket from the edge of the box right on the stroke of half-time.
Real did not fold in the second period and Ramos had the ball in the net from an Esteban Granero free-kick only for the referee to rule the goal out.
Barcelona had looked shaky at the back throughout and with 23 minutes left they gave way twice. Cristiano Ronaldo ran on to Kaka's pass, rounded Pinto and, from a tight angle, pulled the tie back to 4-2 on aggregate. Karim Benzema, on for Higuain, levelled on the night with 71 minutes on the clock.
With Real tails up, Mourinho was off his seat. Ramos headed Ozil's corner just wide but then saw red for an elbow on Sergio Busquets. As the defender walked off, he held conference with Mourinho on the touchline. Some of the unity and spirit had been restored but Real and Mourinho were out of the cup.