Ronaldo batters Barca to put Real into Cup final
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo crushed Barcelona's treble hopes with two goals in a 3-1 away win for Real Madrid in their King's Cup semi-final second leg on Tuesday to set up a final showdown against Atletico Madrid or Sevilla.
The Portuguese forward became the first player to score in six straight 'Clasicos' away from home when he picked himself up after being felled by Gerard Pique in the 13th minute and struck a powerful low penalty into the corner past Jose Manuel Pinto.
Barca dominated possession but rarely threatened and Ronaldo doubled the lead when he collected a rebound from a 57th-minute Angel Di Maria effort and stroked the ball into the net with Pinto stranded.
It was his 12th goal in 18 appearances against Barca since joining Real in 2009 and his second double in as many games at a stunned Nou Camp.
Real rubbed salt in the wounds of their arch-rivals when Raphael Varane, who netted the equaliser in the 1-1 draw in last month's first leg at the Bernabeu, rose above the defence at a 68th-minute corner and sent a header arrowing into the net off the crossbar.
Jordi Alba pulled one back in the 89th minute but it was far too late for Barca who conceded three goals to Real at home for the first time since a 3-3 draw in March 2007.
They had not lost to the Madrid club by two goals at their giant arena in more than a decade.
"We are coming away with the feeling that we have done a very good job," Real captain Sergio Ramos said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Canal Plus after his side went through 4-2 on aggregate.
"You always suffer against Barcelona because they look for the spaces and they make things hard for you but we fought very well," the Spain international added.
"I have always said that he (Ronaldo) is the best in the world and he always does the business in these games."
Real's thumping victory will give them a huge boost ahead of Saturday's La Liga clash at home to Barca and Tuesday's Champions League last 16 second leg at Manchester United.
Barca, 12 points clear of Atletico at the top of La Liga but facing Champions League elimination after losing 2-0 at AC Milan last week, need to pick themselves up for Saturday's trip to the Bernabeu and the return leg at home to Milan on March 12.
Their World Player of the Year Lionel Messi went close in the first half with a low free kick but otherwise cut a forlorn figure and barely mustered a shot on goal.
Real are through to the Cup final for a record 38th time and have won 18 and lost 19 of their previous 37 appearances.
Atletico Madrid will seek to protect a 2-1 advantage from last month's first leg when they play at Sevilla on Wednesday.
(Writing by Iain Rogers in Madrid, editing by Tony Jimenez and Pritha Sarkar)
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Gareth Bale raced away to score a stunning late winner as Real Madrid made light of the absence of top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo to beat arch-rivals Barcelona 2-1 to win a riveting King's Cup final on Wednesday. Full Article