Gareth Bale bags Copa del Rey winner against Barcelona
Welshman races down the touchline before poking home late winner for Real Madrid
Gareth Bale of Real Madrid after scoring the winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla in Valencia, Spain. Photogrpah: Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 2
The Cardiff Express set off at 23.12 and came back with the Copa del Rey. Gareth Bale has his first trophy as a Real Madrid player after a sprint that started just inside his own half ended with the ball in the back of the Barcelona net. There were just five minutes to go in the final, and there was still time for Neymar to strike the Madrid post, but it turned out to be the winner.
A Marc Bartra header in his first ever clasico had equalised Angel Di Maria’s early opener and Barcelona were pressuring for the first time. But then Bale, who produced a superb performance at the Mestalla, made it 2-1. Real Madrid have the cup and a Champions League semi-final awaits; Barcelona have lost it all in seven days.
The goal was the kind that defines the world’s most expensive player. The move began barely 10 yards from their own byline. Isco won possession and found Fabio Coentrao up the line, who move the ball on further. Bale burst towards the left and knocked it past Bartra. With 50 yards in front of him, the sprinter knew that this was a race he would win. Bartra nudged Bale and he was forced off the pitch but he kept on running, taking the long route round, outside the touchline and back on to the pitch, bombing into the area to slot the ball through Jose Pinto’s legs. The sprint to the other corner to celebrate was almost as fast, team-mates piling on.
This was Bale’s final. He had been involved in the first goal scored by Di Maria in the 11th minute and he had enjoyed opportunities too in a mobile forward role, mostly to the left, sometimes the right and occasionally through the middle. It would be Madrid’s final, too. Mostly, they had been the more likely to score but Barcelona did make them suffer. Xavi’s corner curled outwards and Bartra pulled away from Pepe, leaning back and snapping his neck to send a superb header into the far corner to make it 1-1 after 68 minutes and for the first time Barcelona threatened.
But then with the clock ticking down Isco robbed, Coentrao passed and Bale ran.