Extra time gives Madrid Copa over Barca

BY foxsports • April 20, 2011

Cristiano Ronaldo headed home the winner in extra-time as Real Madrid ended an 18-year Copa del Rey trophy drought with a 1-0 victory over biggest rival Barcelona on Wednesday.

Ronaldo guided Angel Di Maria's 103rd-minute cross back across goal and past the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto into the top corner as Madrid won silverware for the first time since a 2008 Spanish league title.

Madrid dominated the first half and then relied on goalkeeper Iker Casillas' second-half stops as Barcelona took control after the restart in an electric atmosphere at the Mestalla Stadium.

Madrid's 18th domestic cup also ends a six-game winless run against Barcelona, which lost for only the 10th time in its 35th final appearance.

Madrid's elated players practically roared after the final whistle sounded as Barcelona failed for the first time under coach Pep Guardiola with a trophy on the line.

Madrid fullback Marcelo played Di Maria into the left side of the area and the Argentina forward beat Daniel Alves to the well-laid ball to find Ronaldo at the far post for the winner at the site of both clubs' last cup win - Madrid over Zaragoza and Barcelona over Athletic Bilbao in 2009.

Di Maria was sent off late on as Madrid finished with 10 men against Barca for the second time in five days, but the red card had no influence on the outcome.

Madrid took the second of four meetings in 18 days - they play a two-legged Champions League semifinal still - between the fierce rivals in a classic game of two halves.

The charged atmosphere for the ninth cup final at Mestalla might have played a hand in a frantic and physical first half dominated by Madrid, which disrupted Barcelona's cool with constant pressure. The Catalans didn't manage a single shot on goal until the second half as it abandoned its slick passing game for long balls at times.

With Javier Mascherano filling in for Carles Puyol at centerback, Barcelona's defense looked unsure as Madrid forced turnovers with constant upfield pressure.

And Madrid created chances on the break as expected with Mesut Oezil picking up where he left off in Saturday's 1-1 draw by creating Madrid's best opportunities. But the Germany playmaker missed his own in the 11th after hesitating.

Pinto remained alert as he stopped Ronaldo's hard shot in the 36th after Oezil played the Portugal forward down the right.

The bruising matchup led to a number of run-ins between players who normally represent Spain together, with David Villa and Alvaro Arbeloa exchanging shoves while even a frustrated Messi had trouble hiding his emotions as the acrimonious rivalry bubbled up with silverware on the line. Barcelona had won three of the five previous cup finals between the two before this one, including the last one in 1990.

Madrid nearly capped a strong first half in the 44th as Pepe got over Daniel Alves to meet Oezil's cross but his header found the near post.

Barcelona was more composed after the restart as it worked the ball around to set up Villa's dangerous shot in the 51st.

Messi and Alves neatly combined for a good effort minutes later as the Spanish champions rediscovered the possession game that helps them thrive, with Villa again threatening.

Mourinho, meanwhile, screamed at Ronaldo for skirting his defensive duties while Messi was booked for blocking a free kick in the 64th as the teams' two stars - who have now combined for 90 goals this season - found it hard to show off their offensive talents.

The Barcelona half of the stadium exploded in the 69th as Messi found a streaking Pedro to slide the ball under Madrid 'keeper Iker Casillas, but the goal was chalked off for offside.

Only Casillas denied Barcelona a second-half winner as he dived to keep out Messi's low screamer and then swatted away Pedro's top corner bound curler away in the 75th. Casillas again stood tall in the 81st as the Spain goalie tipped Andres Iniesta's shot wide of the post.

With Barcelona dominating, Madrid nearly scored an injury-time winner but Pinto - usually a backup except for cup games - tipped Di Maria's rising shot over the bar.

Madrid nearly hit on the break in the 98th as Ronaldo sprinted down the right and beat Pinto with a crossgoal shot that flashed by the far post.

Ronaldo was quick in the 118th as he jumped to Emmanuel Adebayor's tipped shot but his shot was deflected high as Madrid withstood Di Maria's sending off in the 120th and Barcelona pressure for the win in front of over 52,000 fans


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