Real Madrid cruised into the final of the Copa del Rey with a straightforward 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday evening.
With Real leading 3-0 after the first leg, whatever slim hopes Atletico may have had of a remarkable turnaround were effectively extinguished inside the opening 20 minutes at the Vicente Calderon, as the home side contrived to give away two penalties in quick succession.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the first spot-kick after just seven minutes, converted both, putting Real 5-0 up on aggregate and leaving Atletico with the almost impossible task of scoring six times in order to progress.
That proved impossible as Los Blancos cruised to the final whistle. They will now face either Barcelona or Real Sociedad in the final.
The two sides complete their semi-final on Wednesday, with Barcelona 2-0 ahead on aggregate.
Tuesday's match was perhaps most notable for a disappointing incident at half-time, which saw Ronaldo hit by a lighter that appeared to have been thrown from the stands.
Afterwards, manager Carlo Ancelotti told reporters (per AFP):
Cristiano is fine, he scored two goals and he doesn't have any problems.
We are still alive in all competitions and whilst this is the least important of the three in comparison to La Liga or the Champions League, to get to a final is always a good thing for the team.
We have played well in all the cup games. We have kept a clean sheets throughout and this speaks well of the mentality of the team.
Considering the one-sided nature of the first-leg scoreline, along with the league aspirations of both sides, the two managers rotated their options—with Atletico appearing to lack a real attacking threat without Diego Costa (suspended) and David Villa (injured).
Without that duo, Diego Simeone instead selected attacking midfielder Raul Garcia as a makeshift striker; a tactic that was unintentionally mimicked by Ancelotti, who played Isco as a false nine, with the No. 23 rotating positions in the front line with Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
In defence, there was good news for Real fans as Raphael Varane returned to the starting lineup after injury.
It took just seven minutes for Real to grab the lead and put the tie further out of reach. Ronaldo, taking advantage of a mistake in the Atletico defence, burst into the box and threatened to shoot.
Young defender Javi Manquillo scrambled back desperately in a bid to make an impact but in his haste made contact with the striker, sending him to the floor. The referee awarded a penalty and Ronaldo made no mistake, burying the ball to the goalkeeper’s right.
Barely 10 minutes later, history repeated itself and Ronaldo converted to the same corner for the second time from 12 yards out. This time it was Bale who won the penalty, the Welshman scythed down by the impetuous Emiliano Insua as he attempted to cut into the box from wide on the right.
Between those two goals, Garcia had seen his curling effort rebound away off Iker Casillas’ far post, but that was about as close as the home side would come in a half that also saw Cristian Rodriguez waste a half chance.
Real also created few clear openings, with Ronaldo snatching at one opportunity inside the box to grab his hat-trick from open play.
The second half saw both sides make changes to rest, rotate or avoid suspension to their players, with a consequential impact on the fluidity of the game.
Bale forced a relatively straightforward save from Aranzubia from a free-kick, while Atletico peppered Casillas with a couple of long-range shots.
But there was no real prospect of any more goals in the contest as the stands at the Calderon began to empty minutes before the final whistle.
Atletico, the competition's holders, will now return to focusing on league matters—with a potentially pivotal title meeting against their cross-town rivals just a few weeks away.
Simeone may well believe his side will be better equipped to give a decent account of themselves on that occasion, especially if both Villa and Costa are available to him once again.
The Argentine added afterwards:
You are never happy to lose or go out of a competition, much less in this manner losing 5-0.
Last year we managed to win this competition, this year we got to the semi-finals.
You can always do better as a team, but now we will continue with the same desire as before and we want to remain competitive.
|Atletico Madrid Player Ratings|
|Real Madrid Player Ratings|
The final of the Copa del Rey is scheduled for April 19.
Real Madrid face Getafe away from home on Sunday, while Atletico return to league action at home to Vallodolid a day earlier.
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