Real Madrid cruised through to the final of the Copa del Rey as two early Cristiano Ronaldo penalties secured them a 5-0 aggregate win over Atletico Madrid.
Taking a handsome advantage to the Vicente Calderon after last week’s first leg, the prospect of Atletico turning the tie around always looked unlikely. When Ronaldo struck home from the spot inside seven minutes any hope had been effectively diminished. At that stage needing five goals to progress, it soon became six when the Portuguese slammed home his second penalty just nine minutes later.
Madrid now await the victors between Barcelona and Real Sociedad, and with the Catalans taking a 2-0 lead into the second leg on Wednesday, a Clasico final looks firmly on the cards. In reality it had done even before kickoff at the Calderon.
Atletico’s mammoth task was made even more daunting by the absence through injury of Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis, Tiago and David Villa. On top of that, their talismanic striker Diego Costa was ruled out through suspension following his yellow card picked up in a bad tempered encounter at the Bernabeu. And with his thin squad still competing in La Liga and the Champions League and starting to show signs of fatigue, coach Diego Simeone effectively saved his squad for challenges ahead. Juanfran, Diego Godin, Gabi and Arda Turan all started on the bench to mean there was an unfamiliar look to the Atletico side.
One of the players brought into the side, Javier Manquillo, was exposed almost immediately. The right-back was perhaps unfortunate to concede a penalty as he clashed with Ronaldo’s legs in the box. With no hesitation Ronaldo stepped up and lashed the ball to the right of Atletico’s stand-in keeper Daniel Aranzubia.
Raul Garcia almost gave the home fans something to cheer when producing a well-struck effort that came back off the post with Iker Casillas at full stretch. But any optimism was almost immediately dispelled with the award of a second penalty of which there could this time be no debate.
A reckless challenge from Emiliano Insua this time brought down Madrid’s other winger Gareth Bale as the Welshman broke into the box down the right. Ronaldo went the same way with his spot kick, this time putting it low into the corner with the same result,
There was an unsavory moment when Ronaldo was struck by a lighter thrown from the stands as he walked off at the interval. In truth there was little reason for any of the players to have made their way back out of the tunnel after the interval, with the second-half a non-event and the result long since decided.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.