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Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona

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Varane: Scores vital equaliser

Varane: Scores vital equaliser

Raphael Varane scored a late equaliser as Real Madrid claimed a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi took centre stage in Madrid, but neither were on the score sheet as the two footballing juggernauts could not be separated in the Spanish capital.

The hosts made a bright start to the game as Ronaldo, captaining his side for the first time in an El Clasico, tested Jose Manuel Pinto with an early free-kick.

Cup holders Barcelona were quick to respond and Jordi Alba shot wide from Andres Iniesta's pass, before Xavi's stunning free-kick came back off the crossbar.

Xavi came even closer to putting Barcelona ahead before half-time after Ricardo Carvalho sold debutant goalkeeper Diego Alvez short with a back-pass and Messi set up the Spanish midfielder, but his low effort was blocked on the line by Varane.

The Catalan giants took the lead five minutes into the second half when Messi stole possession in the final third to play in Cesc Fabregas, who drove a low shot into the bottom left corner.

Ronaldo should have levelled the scoreline on the hour mark when he was picked out at the back post by Michael Essien, only for the Portuguese forward to steer his header wide from inside the six-yard box.

Fabregas almost added his and Barcelona's second when he lashed a shot over from 12-yards, before Pedro chipped a shot wide from a one-on-one opportunity against Lopez.

Tito Vilanova's side were made to rue the missed chances as Varane, on his El Clasico debut, rose inside the final 10 minutes to head home an equaliser from Mesut Ozil's free-kick.

Real Madrid will now travel to Camp Nou in late February for the second leg, with a place in the Copa del Rey final to play for.

Posted: 30/01/13 20:04

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