Copa del Rey: Barcelona 0 Real Madrid 1
Cristiano Ronaldo gave Jose Mourinho his first trophy as Real Madrid manager last night with a dramatic extra-time winner in the Spanish Cup final.
Ronaldo had ran Barcelona ragged in the first half of normal time but his scoring touch appeared to have deserted him until he rose majestically at the far post in the first period of injury time to win Madrid their first trophy of the season, and Mourinho his first as Madrid manager.
The Portuguese coach had played the 41 goal forward through the middle and the decision paid off when he scored a classic centre-forward’s header to decide a match that Madrid dominated in the first half but so nearly let slip away from them in the second half.
On the quarter-hour of the first period Ozil set Ronaldo up with his first chance after dawdling over a opportunity himself in the centre of the penalty area. He played the pass out to Real’s number seven whose shot was saved from a tighter angle.
The pair combined again with the Portuguese international running on to a lofted pass from Ozil but shooting weakly allowing Pinto to make the save.
Barcelona were enjoying none of their customary dominance and as another Ozil pass sent Ronaldo sprinting down the right he raced away to again test Pinto with a fierce shot.
Sergi Busquets summed up the way Barcelona were being knocked out of their stride by Madrid as he gave away passes in midfield. Ahead of him Pedro, David Villa and Leo Messi suffered without service.
Tempers flared between Spain team-mates Arbeloa and Villa but it was Pepe who went harshly into the referee’s book for a challenge that looked no worse than those before it that had gone unpunished.
Mourinho’s furious reaction to Xabi Alonso taking a free-kick short underlined Madrid’s game plan to get the ball forward early but there was quality about their direct approach.
Barcelona came back into the game just before half time forcing two corners but that was the cue for Madrid to so nearly break the deadlock when Pepe crashed a header on to the bar after Ozil and Ronaldo had combined down the right.
Ronaldo’s had set up Ozil with pass made with his back to the delight of the Madrid fans behind the goal Real attacked in the first half. They were now making more noise than the Barcelona fans who had done their best to drown out the Spanish anthem at the start of the game.
Barcelona were different side after the break and only a perfectly timed tackle from Ricardo Carvalho stopped David Villa wriggling through. Messi was then brought down by Sami Khedira but fired the free-kick into the wall.
Messi was now far more involved while at the other end Ronaldo looked increasingly isolated as Ozil tired. The Argentine was booked as he charged down a quickly taken Madrid free-kick and he blasted wide as Barca looked more likely to open the scoring.
Pedro looked to have put them ahead running onto Messi’s pass and finishing past s international team-mate Iker Casillas only for the linesman to flag for offside. Mourinho’s reaction was immediate with Ozil replaced by Emmanuel Adebayor who went straight into the referee’s book for a foul on Mascherano.
Casillas was by now far the busier keeper saving from Messi, spectacularly from Villa, and then Iniesta in the space of just a few minutes. Messi had another chance but the ball was scooped off his toe by Marcelo before he could test Madrid’s keeper.
When Real Madrid did break away they suddenly lacked the legs and the ideas to make it pay with Ramos running into trouble when he might have fed Ronaldo who himself spurned a late chance.
But with extra time came his golden opportunity and he took it. First he shot narrowly wide after being put through by Xabi Alonso but then he buried Di Maria’s cross with his head to score his 42nd goal of the season past Pinto and send the white half of Mestalla into raptures.