Already certain to win the league (15 points ahead in the standings), FC Barcelona has received a real shower on his property on Tuesday in the semifinals of the King’s Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo was at his indomitable best as he struck twice in Real Madrid’s 3-1 victory at Barcelona to secure the club’s Copa del Rey final berth.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was in attendance to see his former protégé end the Blaugrana’s defence of Spain’s domestic cup, taking his tally for the season against the Camp Nou team to six goals. José Mourinho, beginning one of his testing weeks in football, looked bemused by the fuss as his team outclassed their adversaries.
With the tie level at 1-1 after the first leg four weeks ago, Barça ostensibly boasted a slight advantage and Lionel Messi was inches away from giving them an outright lead 90 seconds into the game. However his right-footed shot went wide of Diego López’s post.
Then Madrid exhibited just why they are perhaps the continent’s best counter-attacking side when Ronaldo suddenly found himself one-on-one against Gerard Piqué. The flustered Spain international was bamboozled by his former Manchester United teammate before sliding recklessly to trip Ronaldo and concede an obvious penalty. Piqué and Carles Puyol nevertheless had the gall to suggest Ronaldo had dived.
Ronaldo sent Pinto the wrong way to give Real the lead to score for the sixth game running at the Camp Nou. Barça were subdued for the remainder of the half, although Messi went close to scoring an ingenious free-kick when his low-struck set-piece evaded the soles of those in the Madrid wall, but flashed wide.
After Piqué’s humiliation, it was Puyol’s turn in the 57th minute. Sami Khedira’s long clearance inadvertently found Angel di María, who left the Spaniard with twisted blood to fire straight at Pinto, only for Ronaldo to coolly convert the rebound for his 11th Clásico goal.
The excellent Raphaël Varane then ended the tie when he headed in from Mesut Özil’s corner, via the underside of the crossbar 11 minutes later. Jordi Alba flattered the hosts with a late strike but this was further evidence that the chasm between the teams in La Liga (16 points separate them) is not a fair reflection. Having lost his first game as Real coach 5-0 at Barcelona, Mourinho’s Madrid had Barça petrified in their own backyard again.