Madrid beats Barca 1-0 after extra time to win cup
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.
''It was a very tough game, Barcelona played very well, but, as you know, whoever scores, wins,'' said Ronaldo, who won his first title since joining Madrid last season. ''We are very happy, Madrid had not won this cup for many years.''
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 Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho bowed before King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia as he received his mini-trophy while Casillas hugged the pair before using the king as support to climb up on a support and hoist the club's 18th domestic cup win high.
''A great game of football,'' Mourinho said after bringing silverware to the club in his first season to end a six-game winless run against Barcelona, which lost for only the 10th time in its 35th final appearance. ''The title isn't mine, it's everyone's. After so long without the Copa del Rey, it's something nice.''
Barcelona failed with a trophy on the line for the first time under coach Pep Guardiola.
''It's always better to win than lose but we have to recover because that's life. Life has its knocks too,'' Guardiola said. ''Will we pick ourselves up from this? Of course.''
Barcelona, which closed in on the league title with a 1-1 draw against Madrid on Saturday, gets its first chance next Wednesday when the pair meet for the first of a two-legged Champions League semifinal.
The winning goal came from an incisive attack by Madrid. Fullback Marcelo played Di Maria into the left side of the area and the Argentina forward beat Daniel Alves to the perfectly-weighted 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.
Madrid's players were heading back to the Spanish capital to celebrate at the Plaza de Cibeles, its traditional spot, although a late night was not expected.
''We're not going to celebrate so much - we're all dead tired,'' defender Alvaro Arbeloa said.
The charged atmosphere for the ninth cup final at the 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 repeatedly won back possession 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 including in the 36th when he set up Ronaldo for a shot Pinto saved.
''They played similar (to Saturday's game)- they changed players but the concept was pretty much the same as the Bernabeu,'' Guardiola said. ''With such great teams it's the details that make the difference.''
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 Lionel 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.
Barcelona - which watched Pepe's header come off the post just before the break - was more composed after the restart as it worked the ball and rediscovered the possession game that helps them thrive, with Villa 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.
''We wanted him to participate in areas where we want him to be involved,'' Guardiola said of Messi after he was again stymied by a Mourinho gameplan. ''He's so important for us.''
The Barcelona half of the stadium exploded in the 69th but Pedro's goal was chalked off for offside before Casillas shined.
The Spain 'keeper 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 after tipping Andres Iniesta's shot wide of the post.
''We prove to everyone we can beat any team we want,'' said Casillas after winning the only club trophy missing from his cabinet of silverware.
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 before Ronaldo beat Pinto in the 98th but flashed wide of 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 - as Madrid finished with 10 men against Barca for the second time in five days - to win in front of over 52,000 fans.
Casillas added Mestalla's smaller dimensions also helped Madrid contain Barcelona.
''We don't know any other way (of playing),'' Alves said. ''We leave with a bittersweet taste but with our heads held very high.''