Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Real lose Cup crown as Barca hold on to down them


AFP - Barcelona survived a late comeback from holders Real Madrid to knock them out of the Spanish Cup with a 4-3 victory on aggregate after a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp where the visitors put up a spirited fightback to come from two goals down.
Jose Mourinho may still not have won away to Barcelona in nine attempts as a coach whether at Real or any of his other clubs but his team?s performance was a perfect answer to their critics who have blasted their recent poor displays against their arch rivals.
First-half goals by Pedro and Dani Alves looked to have put the game beyond the reach of Real but they fought back to level on the night with goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema but in the end came up short and had defender Sergi Ramos sent-off late on.
Real, looking to overturn the 2-1 first leg quarter-final defeat, set off at a high tempo but went on to miss a hatful of chances with Gonzalo Higuain especially wasteful.
The game had just kicked off when Real had their first chance for Higuain but he shot well wide after being played in by a poor Alves back pass.
Minutes later and Higuain had another glaring miss. Xabi Alonso floated in a free-kick and Ronaldo stabbed a shot from close range which was blocked by the keeper Jose Pinto and the follow-up fell to the Argentine who fired over.
Real were dictating the play and finding cracks in the Barcelona rearguard but the problem was that they were not making the most of the openings and against a side of the calibre of the Catalans it was always likely to prove costly.
Ronaldo shot wide with another opportunity and then after a break by Kaka from midfield he set up Ronaldo, who pushed a bit wide, again was unable to hit the target.
Barca were struggling to cope with the darting runs from Mesut Ozil and he was extremely unlucky with a sublime 35-yard strike which crashed back into play off the woodwork.
It seemed as though the ball would never go in for Higuain as after a poor clearance he shot tamely back at the keeper.
Barca had offered little but there was a feeling that the sucker punch would come and it did just that two minutes before the break.
The Real defence flocked to block a Lionel Messi run and left Pedro, who came on for the injured Andres Iniesta, free. He slotted the ball with his weaker right foot into the corner.
Real were stunned but it got worse as in stoppage time Alves unleashed an unstoppable shot which flew into the roof of the net from the edge of the area.
It was always going to be a difficult second half for Real and that was made worse by a disallowed goal for Ramos after a tug on Alves.
The game began to turn scrappy but that turned out to help Real as Barca lost their concentration.
Alonso slipped a ball through for Ronaldo to round the keeper and score to reopen the game after 67 minutes and then substitute Benzema took advantage of slack defending to bring the scores level.
Benzema had a half chance late on and Pedro also headed straight at the keeper Iker Casillas but Barca hung on while Real also saw Ramos dismissed to add salt to the wound.

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