Cristiano's late goal gives Copa del Rey to Madrid

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Cristiano's late goal gives Copa del Rey to Madrid

A Cristiano Ronaldo's header 12 minutes into extra time gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win over FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo(C) heads the ball during the King's Cup final soccer match against Barcelona at Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, April 20, 2011. Real Madrid claimed the champion by defeating Barcelona 1-0. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)

The Portuguese star produced a powerful header to give Barca keeper Jose Pinto no chance and hand Madrid their first trophy for three years and their first Cup since 1993.

It was the decisive moment in an enthralling and tense game of football between the two biggest sides in Spain.

There were no surprises in either starting 11 with Javier Mascherano playing in central defense for Barca and Pepe continuing in midfield for a Real Madrid side that maintained its tactics from Saturday's 1-1 draw in the Santiago Bernabeu.

That meant Madrid worked hard to close Barca down in the middle of the park and deny space to Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. It worked well as Barcelona struggled to create in midfield and Madrid created the chances.

Ronaldo sent a chance wide and Mesut Ozil fired a shot wide after a corner had been half cleared.

Barcelona were enjoying 75 percent of the ball, but failing to penetrate a packed Madrid midfield, although Pepe was booked after 25 minutes for a foul on Leo Messi, a minute before Alvaro Arbeloa appeared to stamp on David Villa to spark tense scenes between both sets of players.

Ronaldo saw another chance saved by Jose Pinto on the half hour, before Pepe almost gave his side the lead before the break. The Portuguese international saw his thumping header bounce off the inside of the post after a cross from Angel de Maria.

Barcelona kicked the second half off with Pedro Rodriguez and Messi swapping wings and there was an immediate effect as Barca looked more dangerous and Pedro and Villa both fired wide.

Madrid were visibly tiring and content to merely hit the ball out of defense as Barcelona began to threaten more and more. Pedro had the ball in the back of the net after 68 minutes, but the goal was ruled out for a narrow, but correct offside decision.

If the first half had belonged to Real Madrid, the second was all Barca's and Mourinho brought on striker Emmanuel Adebayor for Ozil.

Casillas saved from Messi and then Pedro as Barca tightened their grip and Messi began to show his class and with 10 minutes Casillas produced another fingertip save to deny Iniesta, who took a pass from the Argentinean.

Madrid had one chance in the last minute of normal time, but Pinto tipped De Maria's shot inches over the bar to send the game into extra time.

The extra 30 minutes continued the script from the second half with Barca probing for an opening and Madrid aiming to find Ronaldo, who fired just wide after 98 minutes. He made no mistake three minutes later, however, to power home a De Maria cross from the left.

With 15 minutes to save the game Barcelona brought on Ibrahima Affelay for David Villa, but Madrid held on to take the prize.


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