Barcelona dealt Real Madrid
another body blow when they survived a stirring fightback from
their arch rivals to draw 2-2 in an action-packed King's Cup
quarter-final second leg on Wednesday and send the holders out
4-3 on aggregate.
After Barca won last week's first leg in Madrid 2-1, Real
came out swinging and probably had the better of the opening
exchanges before Lionel Messi released substitute Pedro to open
the scoring for the home side in the 43rd minute in front of
almost 100,000 spectators at a raucous Nou Camp.
Full-back Daniel Alves looked to have settled the tie when he
blasted a spectacular second in first-half added-time, running
on to a loose ball and sending a thunderous drive past Real
goalkeeper Iker Casillas into the top corner.
Barca appeared to be in total control and they dominated
possession at the start of the second half but Real rallied and
mounted a rousing late fightback that left them needing just one
more goal to advance.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored the extra-time winner when
Real beat Barca 1-0 in last year's cup final, sped on to Mesut
Ozil's pass and finished past Jose Manuel Pinto just over 20
minutes from time and Barca were reeling when substitute Karim
Benzema levelled four minutes later.
Both sides had chances in the frenetic final stages before
Real centre-back Sergio Ramos was sent off for a second yellow
card and Barca then ran down the clock to set up a semi-final
against Valencia or Levante, who meet on Thursday.
"The players played a good game," a subdued Real boss Jose
Mourinho told a news conference full of curt answers.
Real had played well in the first half and did not deserve
to be two behind at the break, he said, adding that he had told
his players he wanted more of the same in the second period.
"Before the game we came here with the hope and the
motivation of winning," he said.
"If you want I will congratulate Barcelona for the win last
week. I am happy to do that as they deserved to win."
The build-up to the game, the fifth meeting between the pair
this season, had been dominated by the controversy over an
alleged stamp on Messi's hand by Real defender Pepe.
Mourinho included his Portuguese compatriot, who said he did
not mean to tread on Messi, in the starting line-up and his every
touch was greeted with howls of derision by the Barca faithful.
Barca almost fell behind seconds into the game when centre-back Gerard Pique inexplicably let the ball run through to
Gonzalo Higuain but the Real striker skewed his shot wide.
Both sides were on the attack from the start and Ronaldo
tested Pinto with a powerful low drive before Messi curled a
shot narrowly wide after a swift break orchestrated by Cesc
Ozil came within a whisker of putting Real ahead in the 25th
minute when he tried a shot from distance that shook the
crossbar and bounced down just outside the goal-line.
Pinto, who plays in the cup instead of first-choice goalkeeper
Victor Valdes, then played the ball straight to Higuain but
again the Argentina international was unable to take advantage
of the error.
An attritional second half was full of controversial
moments, with a slew of fouls and yellow cards leaving the Real
players furiously berating the officials as they exited the
Barca's success extended coach Pep Guardiola's recent
dominance over Real. He has won nine 'Clasicos' and only lost
once, in the 2011 cup final, in 14 games since taking charge in
Mourinho, by contrast, has yet to find the formula that will
help Real end Barca's Spanish and European dominance, although
his side are five points clear of the champions in La Liga with
half the season played.
"It's more difficult each time to beat Real Madrid and
that's why we are pleased with the game today," Guardiola told a news conference.
"Madrid are a great team and that's why the victory is worth
so much," the former Barca and Spain midfielder added.
"They played a good match but over the 180 minutes we were
the deserved winners."
Barca full-back Alves, who blasted a spectacular goal
to make it 2-0 in first-half added-time, said Real had played
"This is the version of Real Madrid that causes us the most
problems because they pressure you a lot," the Brazilian said.
"They were closing us down well and making it difficult for
us to bring the ball forward.
"But the important thing is that we have the victory in the
tie in the bag."
On the other side of the draw, Athletic Bilbao set up a
last-four clash against third-tier Mirandes when a howler by
home goalkeeper Juan Jesus Calatayud gifted them a 1-0 win at
Real Mallorca for a 3-0 aggregate success.
After last week's first leg at the San Mames ended 2-0 to
the Basques, time was already running out for Mallorca when Ivan
Ramis played an innocuous-looking pass back to Calatayud in the
76th minute at the Iberostar stadium.
As the goalkeeper prepared to control the ball, it popped up off
the turf and rolled past him into the net to end the Balearic
Islands club's hopes of repeating their 2003 cup triumph.
Their misery was completed when defender Chico was sent off
late on and he clashed with his coach Joaquin Caparros, who had
a stint in charge at Bilbao, and punched the dugout in
frustration as he left the pitch.
Tiny Mirandes pulled off a huge upset on Tuesday when a goal
in added-time gave them a 2-1 win at home to Espanyol
that sent them through on away goals, only the second time a
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