Photo: Copa del Rey win (Real Madrid)
A tremendous individual effort by Welsh international Gareth Bale with six minutes left in regulation gave Real Madrid a 2-1 victory over archrival FC Barcelona in Wednesday’s 2014 Copa del Rey final.
Bale’s first goal against Barça since joining the Blancos last summer from England’s Tottenham Hotspur will become part of the lore of the Copa competition, which Real Madrid has won 19 times.
With top striker Cristiano Ronaldo injured, the Real Madrid offense was led by Bale and Karim Benzema.
The Blancos started fast in the showdown at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, taking a 1-0 lead just 11 minutes in thanks to a goal by Angel Di Maria, who drove home the Welshman’s cross.
The early strike jolted Barcelona out of its lethargy and the Catalan side began to dominate possession, though to little effect, as shots by Cesc Fabregas, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi missed the mark.
Still leading 1-0, Real Madrid began the second half with a reprise of the approach they took in the opening minutes of the match, generating a pair of decent chances for Bale.
Soon after the Welsh striker had a goal called back when the referee ruled that the keeper was fouled, Barça tied the match in the 68th minute with a header from Marc Bartra off Xavi’s corner kick.
The tally gave Barcelona a second wind and they returned to their possession game.
With the clock winding down, Bale took ball on a 60-meter rush down the left side, blowing past Bartra and beating Barça keeper Pinto at close range for what turned out to be the winning goal.
Neymar’s potential tying goal for Barcelona in the 88th minute hit the post.