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Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid

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Ronaldo: Incisive as ever

Ronaldo: Incisive as ever

A brace from Cristiano Ronaldo led Real Madrid through to the Copa del Rey final as they saw off bitter rivals Barcelona 3-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday to earn a 4-2 aggregate victory.

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The sides entered the tie at 1-1 from the first-leg, but Ronaldo proved the difference on the night, netting the opening two goals before Raphael Varane notched the third to set up a cup final against either Sevilla or Atletico Madrid, with Jordi Alba only able to score a late consolation for the hosts.

The Galacticos stormed into the lead after 13 minutes as Gerard Pique brought down Ronaldo in the area, with the Portuguese superstar picking himself up to slot home the resulting penalty to render Barca's away-goal inconsequential.

The former Manchester United forward looked to double his tally and the visitors' score with a free kick soon after, but he couldn't find his usual deadly technique as the ball fizzed well over the crossbar.

Jose Mourinho's men continued to look the more likely to score in the opening stages, and Higuain had a great chance to play Ronaldo clean through on goal, but the forward opted instead to turn the other way and eventually played a miss-placed pass out for touch, bringing frustrated reactions from his team-mates.

With 36 minutes gone Barca thought they had won themselves a penalty after Sergio Ramos appeared to have upended Pedro inside the area, although the forward went down a little too easily for the referee's liking and he waved away the appeals.

The hosts began playing with more intent as the half drew to a close, with their best chances coming from a free-kick after 40 minutes, but Lionel Messi was only able to find the side-netting after narrowly firing wide of the up-right.

Shortly after the restart Angel di Maria did brilliantly to get back to help out his defence to block Andre Iniesta before breaking up the other end of the field and releasing Fabio Coentrao, but the full-back fired his effort straight at the keeper.

Barca were soon back on the attack and threatened again after Busquets was teed up on the edge of the area, but his fierce effort was too close to Diego Lopez who was able to save.

With 57 minutes gone Real got their second, a hoofed clearance from defence setting Di Maria free down the middle of the park before some trickery left Carles Puyol's feet in knots, and although the keeper was able to save the forward's effort, the ball fell kindly for Ronaldo who took his time before rolling the ball into the back of the net.

Barca again thought they should have been awarded a penalty as Pedro once more went to ground inside the area, this time under pressure from Pique, but after a quick look the referee waved play-on, and replays suggested the official got it right.

Real continued to run away with it though and they soon had their third, Varane following up his goal in the first-leg with another strike in this, rising highest to meet a corner before sending a sumptuous header in off the under-side of the crossbar.

Barca continued to struggle in front of goal, and although substitute Cristian Tello was able to draw a decent save from Lopez, it wouldn't have counted as the striker had already been flagged for off-side.

The hosts finally found a way through with one minute remaining as Jordi Alba made a darting run to get on the end of Iniesta's lovely clipped pass to touch the ball home, although it proved far too little, far too late for the Catalan giants.

The sides will next meet for a re-match in La Liga this weekend, with leaders Barca holding a 16-point advantage over Madrid, who currently occupy third.

Posted: 26/02/13 21:53

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