Barcelona, despite dominating the match, lost out to Real Madrid thanks to an extra-time goal by Cristiano Ronaldo.
As expected, Puyol could not start, and had to settle for a place on the bench, so all attention was on Mascherano and how well he could cover for the inspirational captain.
Real, despite the lack of a true forward, started out with an attack (!) and gained a free-kick early which Xabi Alonso wasted. It was a sign of things to come though, as the referee stopped play no less than a billion times in the first half alone.
And more or less every one of those calls saw the Real players surrounding him, calling for a booking, or protesting their innocence.
First piece of real action saw Mascherano clear a Ronaldo shot off the line, but for the first half an hour, the ref was the focus. He booked Pepe on 25 minutes, and failed to spot a stamp on Villa by Arbeloa on 28.
Even when the next chance came, a Ronaldo shot, he had a huge decision to make on whether to send Pepe off, as he fouled Busquets mere seconds afterwards.
Such an irony that Pepe would come closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half. His header was superb, but could only rattle the inside of the post. Whether he should have been off by then is not my duty to say, but rest assured, it would not be the last time Pepe would be in trouble in this Copa del Rey final.
It pained me to say it, but Mourinho’s tactics were working, Real were better, and Barca hadn’t created one chance in the first half. An improvement was needed.
And we got it.
Pedro signalled the intent with a shot into the side netting, and things only got better from there. Messi had his first shot on 64, and when he dribbled past countless Real players, and played a pass through to Pedro, who slotted it past Casillas, it seemed to be the winner. But the linesman had other ideas, and disallowed the finish, in what was a great decision.
Messi had a shot parried by Casillas, and Villa snatched at the rebound, his confidence is really poor at the moment, and we could have had the winner. Still time for Iniesta to have a chance, but Real finished stronger.
Ronaldo looked to be through, but Alves recovered and made a game saving block. It was destined to end 0-0, and extra-time beckoned.
Extra-time however, would belong to one man. Cristiano Ronaldo.
His shot that just dragged wide reminded everyone that he was here, and shortly after Di Maria sent in a great cross, and the prolific Portuguese man finished with the header.
Barcelona piled on the pressure, Di Maria was even sent off, but to no avail. Real Madrid were the Copa del Rey champions.
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