After losing the Supercopa de España Final, falling behind big in the La Liga title race and trailing in the Copa del Rey Semifinal all thanks to arch-rival Barcelona, Real Madrid’s hopes of winning a major domestic silverware this season seemed to have faded away. Los Blancos travelled to Camp Nou for the second leg of the Spanish Cup last night and pulled off one of their best results in the history of the El Clásico, thumping the home side with a 4-0 score line, courtesy of a hat-trick from 35-year-old captain Karim Benzema and Vinícius Júnior’s 20th goal of the season.
Fifth El Clásico This Season
It was a record fifth meeting between the two Spanish club football giants this season, and Barcelona led 3-1 in the overall head-to-head record before welcoming the team in white to Camp Nou. Xavi altered his Barca squad that easily demolished Elche last weekend with four changes while Carlo Ancelotti had only three for his Real Madrid side that won big in its previous La Liga encounter.
Boosted by the momentum from the first-leg win, the home side started the game with dominance and almost doubled its aggregate lead in the opening two minutes, if it was not Eduardo Camavinga’s clearance. The Catalan Giants had another chance to break the second leg’s deadlock seconds after the first added time was awarded, but Polish captain Robert Lewandowski’s close-range strike was repelled by Thibaut Courtois. The saved chance was immediately punished by the visitors, with Rodrygo broke away and sent a pass to his fellow countryman Vinícius Júnior. The 22-year-old quickly dribbled towards the penalty box, before playing a one-two with his captain to open the scoring.
Five minutes after the restart, the visiting Los Blancos put together a series of good passes, followed by the evergreen Croatian midfielder Luka Modrić’s set-up for Benzema to give Real the aggregate lead in this cup tie. The team in white wasted no time to find its third of the evening, when Barca’s hero in the last El Clásico Franck Kessié became culprit of a foul on Vinícius Júnior in the penalty box. Benzema sent the goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen to the wrong way with his spot kick. The Frenchman completed his hat-trick in the 81st minute, after Vinícius Júnior tore the Barca defence down, before finding his captain to bag his third goal of the evening. Real’s supremacy reigned to overturn the tie and reach the Copa del Rey Final for the first time since the 2013/2014 Season.
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Six Goals in Four Days for Benzema
The 35-year-old forward has been dubbed “Ageing like a fine wine” after scoring successful hat-tricks in the span of four days in all competitions. His three goals against the Catalan Giants last night brought his total tally to 25 goals in 31 appearances this season and made him the fourth highest scorer in the history of El Clásico. Not only that, the Lyon-born striker became the first Real Madrid member to score a hat-trick against Barcelona at Camp Nou since the legendary forward Ferenc Puskás did it in 1963. More importantly, the captain’s sheer moments of brilliance helped Real Madrid snub Barcelona’s three-game winning streak in this historical derby match-up.
His head coach, 63-year-old Italian Ancelotti had nothing but praises for his skipper during the post-match conference: “He has done a very good job in the [international] break, he has found optimum condition and his quality makes the difference, without a doubt. He has flicked the switch. He is still one of the best players in the world, without a doubt. If he’s fit, he’s one of the best. He can win another Ballon d’Or because he is one of the best forwards in the world.”
After this emphatic win, hopes remain alive for Real Madrid to capture cup competition titles namely Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. But before Los Blancos can resume their cup games, they will first welcome Villarreal CF to the Santiago Bernabéu for their 28th league fixture of the season. The team in white is currently 12 points adrift of league leader Barcelona and would likely finish as the runner-up by the end of the season, unless the Catalan Giants stumble across a dreadful run of form.
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— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 5, 2023
Former Real Madrid megastar Cristiano Ronaldo fired his Al-Nassr side to a 5-0 thumping victory over Al-Adalah in the Saudi Pro League. The 38-year-old club captain scored his third consecutive brace in all competitions for club and country in this match.