- Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona (Barça win 4-1 on agg)
• Suárez 50, 72; Varane 69og
Sid Lowe at the Santiago Bernabéu – The Guardian
For Barcelona, there is something about the Santiago Bernabéu. They came to the home of their greatest rivals needing a victory to take them to a record sixth consecutive Copa del Rey final and while that task may appear titanic for most teams, Barça are not most teams: they have made a habit of silencing this stadium and they did so againon Wednesday, two goals from Luis Suárez and an own goal from Raphaël Varane completing a 3-0 win to go with the 6-2, 4-3, 3-2, 4-0 and 3-1 victories they have collected here in the last decade.
If those were successes secured on a superiority that was often startling, this was different, but in the end Barcelona went through. They had struggled for an hour but survived and prevailed. It was not easy to explain, except through extreme efficiency: two of Barcelona’s four shots were on target and they scored three. Madrid had 14 in total and did not score.
“We’re sad because we wanted to reach the final. We fell with honour: we weren’t ruthless, they were very ruthless,” the Madrid manager, Santi Solari, said. The Barcelona manager, Ernesto Valverde, admitted his team had not always played well but had displayed “pegada” – the knockout punch.
Nor was this about a familiar genius: so dependent on Lionel Messi lately, this time his influence was largely incidental; instead, the combination of Ousmane Dembélé and Suárez, neither of whom were especially sparkling in truth, defeated Madrid. The Uruguayan has scored 11 in 13 clásicos.
Until Suárez scored the first goal a little after half-time, that appeared barely plausible. Madrid, who had the advantage of an away goal from the 1-1 first-leg draw, seemed more likely to progress, their path to the final passing through Vinicius, the 18-year-old who has revived their season. But if the threat was always there, it went unrealised. Barcelona for their part threatened rarely but when they struck they were deadly.
It had started with Vinicius’s early flick sending Sergio Reguilón up the left, Barcelona turned for the first but not the last time, Karim Benzema usually the man making sense of the runs around him. Vinicius drew a penalty appeal; shot just over and had another effort blocked by Marc-André ter Stegen. Then the Brazilian, hyperactive, dashed through and eventually found Benzema, only for the Frenchman’s weak shot to hit the keeper. Within a minute, the Brazilian hit over on the turn from close range.
By half-time, there had been no goals – not normal for a clásico, 50 of them passing without a 0-0. Nor was the solitary Barcelona shot, if it could be called that: an Ivan Rakitic drive quickly closed down. But then, five minutes after the restart, they got the opener. Jordi Alba slotted the ball to Dembélé who pulled it back and Suárez, swifter and more alert than Sergio Ramos, steered a superb first-time shot into the net.
Madrid chased the equaliser, Sergio Busquets sliding in to stop Vinicius after he brilliantly turned away from Piqué and Sergio Reguilón’s cross just evading Lucas Vázquez before Dani Carvajal’s shot was saved and a another Vinicius run concluded with the ball squirming wide. Gareth Bale watched from the touchline. He was introduced to applause but a few whistles too, quickly followed by a cheer from the other end where the hundred or so Barcelona fans saw Semedo find Dembélé. His sharp ball into the six-yard box sought Suárez but found Varane, diving in, and the ball rebounded into the net.
Suárez scored again two minutes later. Brought down by Casemiro, he got up and dinked in a Panenka penalty that took Barcelona to the cup final.