Hello and welcome back to coverage of the Copa del Rey Final between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
As we approach the second half at the Mestalla, Valencia, Madrid were tactically too good for Barcelona and despite having barely 30% of the possession the Whites were the better team and perhaps should be more than 1-0 up.
Ancelotti's defensive structure has proved nigh on impenetrable for Barcelona and the Catalans have barely been able to create a chance. However, Barcelona still have Pedro and Alexis to bring on and with forty-five minutes of football left anything can happen.
Barcelona kick off proceedings and the Madrid midfield starts to press. This males a change to the first half where they sat back and allowed Barcelona onto them, before cutting anything dangerous out. The atmosphere remains very tense and neither group of fans is making the noise you might expect them to. The possession is very changeable with two minutes of the second half gone and neither team has settled down yet.
Within seconds of me typing that the game starts to settle with similar proceedings to those of the last half returning with Barcelona passing the ball around the Madrid half with Real happily defending them. However the moment Madrid get the ball back they break forward and Gareth Bale is through on goal but his shot hits the side netting. 48 minutes gone. 1-0 Madrid.
Barcelona win a free kick far out but Messi stands over the ball and the tension rises, but he blasts the ball over the bar. Madrid have a string of possession and start to stroke the ball around in the Barcelona half with a series of "oles" ringing from the crowd. Eventually Barcelona win the ball back through a pass played to an offside player and start to move forward again with a slight hint of desperation creeping in.
However, Pepe wins the ball back and streams forward like Ronaldo or Bale would and is brought down somewhat cynically by Mascherano, for which the Argentinian earns a yellow card.
Angel di Maria's free kick is cleared but the ball is headed back into the box. Busquets clears but only as far as Bale who chests the ball down and with the side of his foot he volleys the ball skillfully but it goes narrowly over the bar. 54 minutes gone. Still 1-0 and Barcelona do not look like scoring.
Barcelona get the ball back again and, like I have said quite a few times now, stroke the ball around with Madrid remaining impenetrable. Yet another Madrid counter attack seems to be forming but Benzema is offside in the build up this time. Once again Barca start to stroke the ball around with Real staying firm (no really). If the game continues at this rate then Madrid will win their 19th Copa del Rey with consummate ease. Barcelona have a penalty appeal turned down. Fabregas did go down and there may have been a hint of contact but the decision was correct.
Madrid stupidly concede possession and as Messi plays the ball out wide to Fabregas Barcelona have some space to create a big chance but Angel di Maria, who is having an absolute blinder, steps in to win the ball back. Substitution. Cesc Fabregas is replaced by Pedro, who is greeted with a huge roar and the Barca fans start singing his name. 60 minutes gone. It remains 1-0. Madrid move forward and an excellent backheel by Carvajal gives di Maria a chance to cross. The cross is blocked and Madrid win a corner.
Benzema powerfully headers the ball in but Pinto saves easily. Isco seizes upon Pinto's throw but Barcelona win the ball back and then give it away again, allowing Benzema to move into a promising position but Mascherano deflects the ball out for a corner. Barcelona look worried as they now can't even move back to stroking the ball around in the Madrid half. Real have a real penalty appeal from their corner with Dani Alves seeming to push over Sergio Ramos but the replay shows that the Spaniard went down far to easily. Xabi Alonso blasts the ball over the bar.
65th minute and Barcelona break forward but have a chance to attack without breaking down two banks of Madrid walls, however Carvajal brilliantly stops Neymar from creating anything. Barca get a throw in and Marc Bartra of all people takes a long shot which is tipped wide by Iker Casillas. Real Madrid deal with the corner and regain possession.
They start to pass the ball around and Angel di Maria streams forward, playing in Karim Benzema whose shot is saved onto the outside of the post by Pinto. Corner to Madrid. Di Maria whips the ball in, Pinto punches away and the ball is headed back in for Bale, GOAL DISALLOWED. It turns out that Bale was offside because Pinto was beyond him. Pinto was fouled is starting to clutch his shoulder as Barca go up the other end and win a corner.
GOAL BARCELONA. Somewhat unbelievably Barcelona have got themselves a goal from out of nowhere as Madrid pathetically defend the corner and the unmarked Marc Bartra gets his first Copa del Rey goal with a powerful header. The youngster is beaming as play recommences. 69 minutes gone. 1-1.
Real Madrid look incredibly angry and every pass has the hint of desperation about it that Barcelona had not too long ago. Barcelona start to regain possession and a bit of swagger has returned to the Catalans with some much more probing passes being attempted. Madrid's two lines of defence disappeared momentarily but they are starting to allow Barcelona back onto them. It looks like they want to re-nick the win with another counter attack and they have a chance as Bale streams forward and hits the ball low and hard but Pinto is up to it and saves the ball.
Pedro has a chance to give Barca the lead as he brings down Dani Alves's cross into the box but he does it with his hand and Real have a free kick. 73 minutes gone. It remains 1-1 and the match is starting to get exciting.
The Barcelona fans' voices have returned and their team are starting to get all the possession again as they stroke it around but with Real starting to chase them as they want their lead back. Barcelona start to pin Real in but Alves wrecks that with a wild long shot over the bar.
Barcelona start to pepper the Real Madrid area and it looks like Lionel Messi could finally start to come into the game. We have some more handbags as Sergio Ramos offers his hand to bring Dani Alves up from the floor but Alves slaps his former Sevilla team-mate's hand away. Nothing more develops, perhaps unfortunately.
Barcelona have a big chance as Lionel Messi, getting more and more involved in the game, plays the ball out wide to Dani Alves in space. He crosses and Pedro has a chance to score but gets no contact on the ball. As Barca try to put the ball back into the box Neymar is ruled to have been offside. 78 minutes gone. 1-1, the pendulum swinging firmly in Barcelona's way.
Real Madrid finally get a bit of possession together but remain calm. They move forward and Luka Modric moves forward and takes a long shot, he very nearly scores what would be yet another goal from long range for the Croatian but his shot hits the outside of the post and goes out for a goal kick.
Barcelona move up the other end and Neymar is put through on goal, there is a slight penalty shout as Neymar goes down but Pepe got just enough contact to put the ball out for a corner. Real deal with successive corners and strive forward with Isco playing a ball to Benzema who runs down the byline. He squares for di Maria but he blasts the ball over the bar when he would've been better off shooting.
Barcelona move forward and start to pepper the Real area before Casillas saves a long shot with ease. Real try to move forward but Barcelona win the ball back and start to attack. Messi gets a cross in but Real deal with it and counter attack.
GOAL REAL MADRID! Bale keeps the ball in on the byline and destroys Marc Bartra, despite the defender's best attempts to foul him, with an incredible turn of pace and runs into the box with incredible pace. Bartra tries to foul him again but Bale slots the ball home.
The Madrid fans and players alike go mad as they are now four or five minutes away from their nineteenth Copa title. Two substitutions are made. Angel di Maria is replaced by Asier Illarramendi and goalscorer Marc Bartra is replaced by Alexis Sanchez. 86 minutes gone. 2-1 Madrid.
It would seem judging by the substitutions that Barcelona will be doing the attacking but Real move forward again and Karim Benzema has a huge chance to finish the game off as his shot is well saved by Pinto.
As Xabi Alonso picks up a yellow card for a cynical foul Isco is taking off for more defensive solidarity as Casemiro replaces him. We are in the 89th minute and it is 2-1 as Barcelona desperately move forward, but Pepe, who has been a rock in defence apart from his marking error to allow Bartra to score, deals with them.
Barcelona have a glaring opportunity to bring the game back as Neymar hits a blistering drive that looks destined for the net but it rattles the post and returns to Iker Casillas's grateful arms; the keeper cheekily runs back to tap the post with his hand before running forward to throw the ball back into play. Benzema is taken off for defender Raphael Varane in injury time and if this goes into extra time there will be a rather peculiar Real Madrid lineup.
Modric moves forward and wins a throw in before a little bit of afters with Dani Alves who shoves him. There's not much more and Madrid do a bit of time wasting before giving the ball away as Barcelona desperately stream forward. Barcelona very nearly have another chance as the Madrid defence break rank but Pepe puts the ball out for a corner.
Even Pinto comes up for the corner but Real put the ball out for a throw. Barcelona hopelessly hoof various balls into the box and Bale breaks free but gladly takes the ball into the corner as he wins another throw in.
THE REFEREE BLOWS HIS WHISTLE. FULL TIME: BARCELONA 1-2 REAL MADRID.
Gareth Bale wins the first major trophy of his career. It would've been easy for him to shrink away from this huge challenge but he is the match winner. Cristiano Ronaldo comes onto the pitch looking delirious and the Real Madrid players celebrate as the Madrid fans sing "Campiones."
What a disastrous week or so it has been for Barcelona, their treble dream has turned into a nightmare as they have crashed out of two cup competitions and lost ground in the title race.
The match didn't quite match the 4-3 of a few weeks before but this enthralling encounter between to giants of World Football ends in Neymar being inches away from keeping his side in the competition.
Madrid move onto 19 Copa del Rey titles, seven behind Barcelona and four behind Atletic Bilbao. Barcelona are still seven Copas ahead of them but that will be scant consolation for the Barcelona players, who look absolutely distraught.
Real Madrid's treble dream is still alive!
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