Gareth Bale delivered a stunning individual goal five minutes from the dead, to help clinch Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final for Real Madrid at the expense of arch-rivals Barcelona.
The Welshman sprinted past defender Marc Bartra from the halfway line to shoot past Jose Manuel Pinto, standing in Barca’s goal for the injured Victor Valdez.
Argentina international Angel Di Maria gifted the ‘Los Blancos’ the lead within ten minutes of play.
Bartra’s second-half header leveled affairs for Barca before Bale’s solo effort proved the former Tottenham Hotspur man’s worth in the absence of Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo through a hamstring injury.
Barcelona dominated the match, yet couldn’t mount any form of pressure on Spanish goalkeeper Iker Cassillas.
The Catalans playmaker Lionel Messi was reduced to a figure head in vital areas in the heat of the proceedings.
Real were organised and committed as they defended every piece of their opponents’ prodding carefully, while on the other end didn’t fail to take their chances with Di Maria and Bale always on rampage.
Di Maria was at the end of a Karim Benzema pass and then shot across Pinto for the opener.
Barca patiently pressed for an equaliser and earned accord for their fighting spirit when they drew level on 68 minutes, courtesy of an unmarked Bartra. The defender powerfully headed Xavi’s corner into the top corner of goal.
Having restored parity, the reigning La Liga champions fought for the winner but Carlo Ancelotti’s men were bound to outwit their opponents, considering their class and determination all through the night.
Fabio Coentrao launched the attack with a long ball down the left towards Bale, and the latter knocked the ball into the deserted Barcelona half with Bartra the only piece left to defend the jigsaw, he managed to keep his cool before prodding Madrid back in front.
The win kept Real’s treble hopes alive as they currently sit second in the Spanish League, with a Champions League semi-finals tie against Bayern Munich in line.
On the contrary, the pressure on Argentine coach, Gerardo Martino, increased after 90 minutes, despite doing a league double against their rivals in the El-Clasico.