Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Iker Casillas Anchors Madrid in Copa del Rey Triumph
Iker Casillas lived up to his billing as "Mount Casillas" under the bright lights for the second time in a 10-month span in Real Madrid's 1-0 Copa del Rey triumph over rival Barcelona on Wednesday in Valencia.
Casillas, widely regarded as the world's best goalkeeper, captained Spain to a World Cup triumph last summer in South Africa, played perhaps his best professional game between the pipes against Barcelona on Wednesday since he shut down a relentless Dutch squad in the World Cup final (a 1-0 extra-time win for Spain).
The stakes of tonight's Copa del Rey triumph were similar to last summer's World Cup final, too: A tilt between two sides more known for their offensive prowess than shutting teams down battled to a scoreless tie in regular time and Casillas' team struck in extra time to take the lead.
This time it was Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored off of an Angel Di Marilla cross in the 103rd minute, who will steal the headlines for putting in the winner and ending Los Blancos' 18-year Copa del Rey drought.
Casillas frustrated a relentless Barcelona attack that took control in the second half after Madrid controlled the first. This, after all, was the same Barcelona team that put five goals past Casillas in a 5-0 thrashing on November 29. But Casillas was a steady force behind a strong Madrid defensive effort and he was able to stymie the Catalans.
“We proved to everyone we can beat any team we want,” Casillas told the Associated Press after the victory.
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