They needed extra time to do it, but Real Madrid have defeated their biggest rivals, FC Barcelona, winning by a final score of 1-0 after extra time, winning the 2011 Copa Del Rey final. Barcelona are a team that simply don't lose when they get into the finals of competitions, so, despite the talent of Real Madrid and the tactical aptitude of Jose Mourinho, this will be seen as a minor upset. Though their league and Champions League drought continues, Madrid have ended their three year trophy drought tonight at the Mestalla.
The winner came from Cristiano Ronaldo in the 12th minute of extra time, created by Angel Di Maria. With Barcelona's defense finally looking tired, Di Maria swung in a cross from the left hand side towards the middle of the penalty area, where it met the head of Ronaldo. He hit an absolutely brilliant, unstoppable header into the back of the net, and the rest his history.
It was a much more physical match than either team is usually involved in, with tensions flaring up after the 1-1 draw in the league, which was the first of a series of four Clasicos. Mesut Özil was the most dangerous player for Real Madrid in the first half, but the finishing simply wasn't there for Özil or for the men he set up. He set up Ronaldo brilliantly in the 12th minute, but a poor first touch allowed Barcelona to close him down. In the 20th minute, Özil missed a shot of his own. At the end of the half, the German playmaker set up a header for Pepe, but his effort hit off the post.
There were two particularly ugly first half challenges, and the referee failed to punish either. Pepe went studs up in to Lionel Messi's ankle in one incident, and in another, after a tangle between David Villa and Alvaro Arbeloa, Arbeloa got up and stepped right on Villa's ankle. Neither challenge resulted in a booking.
In the second half, Barcelona appeared to go ahead, but their goal was ruled out by the linesman. Pedro was the scorer, picking up a spectacular pass from Messi, but he was ruled off side. The replay showed that it was close, but Pedro was marginally offside and the linesman absolutely made the correct call.
Barcelona continued to pressure Real into the second half, but Iker Casillas made a series of absolutely brilliant saves to force extra time, possibly locking up a man of the match award. Two of those huge saves came in the 75th minute, when he stonewalled a Messi shot from about 25 yards, then denied a Pedro chip with his fingertips, sending it wide. Five minutes later, he made another fingertip save, this time on Andres Iniesta.
In stoppage time, Real Madrid looked as if they were going to take the lead and the victory in regulation time, but Jose Manuel Pinto had other ideas, making a fantastic save on a shot by Angel Di Maria.
Both teams looked lively to start extra time, despite the fact that both were probably exhausted, but it was Real Madrid who found the eventual breakthrough from Cristiano Ronaldo, who put his team ahead in the 102nd minute with his great header. At that point, fatigue began to set in for both teams.
If you didn't know, 120 minutes of football can get pretty tiring. Also, the longer you're involved in intense athletic activity, competing against other people, the more likely it is that you will get injured. That's exactly what's happened to Adriano of Barcelona and Ricardo Carvalho of Real Madrid, who have needed to come off due to injuries.
In the 120th minute, Angel Di Maria received a second yellow card and was sent off, but after Barcelona failed to do anything with the ensuing kickoff, the final whistle blew to ensure that Real Madrid were the champions.
Now, with a victory and a trophy in hand, Real Madrid have the advantage heading into the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, where the third and fourth legs of this incredible four Clasico series will take place.