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Friday, April 22, 2011

Madrid beats Barca for King's Cup


Valencia, Spain — Cristiano Ronaldo headed home the winner in extra time as Real Madrid ended an 18-year King's Cup trophy drought with a 1-0 victory over biggest rival Barcelona on Wednesday.

News photo
The main man: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo poses with the King's Cup after Wednesday's 1-0 victory after extra time over Barcelona in Valencia, Spain AP PHOTO

Ronaldo guided Angel Di Maria's 103rd-minute cross back across goal and past the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto into the top corner as Madrid won silverware for the first time since a 2008 Spanish League title.

"It was a very tough game, Barcelona played very well, but, as you know, whoever scores, wins," Ronaldo said. "We are very happy, Madrid had not won this cup for many years."

Madrid dominated the first half and then relied on goalkeeper Iker Casillas' second-half stops as Barcelona took control after the restart in an electric atmosphere at Mestalla Stadium.

Madrid's 18th domestic cup also ends a six-game winless run against Barcelona, which lost for only the 10th time in its 35th final appearance.

Madrid's Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho bowed before King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia as he received his mini-trophy, while Casillas hugged the pair before using the king as support to climb up on a support and hoist the trophy high.

"A great game of football," Mourinho said after bringing silverware to the club in his first season.

Barcelona failed with a trophy on the line for the first time under coach Pep Guardiola.

"It's always better to win than lose but we have to recover because that's life. Life has its knocks too," Guardiola said. "Will we pick ourselves up from this? Of course."

Barcelona, which closed in on the league title with a 1-1 draw against Madrid on Saturday, gets its first chance next Wednesday when the pair meet for the first of a two-legged Champions League semifinal.

The winning goal came from an incisive attack by Madrid. Fullback Marcelo played Di Maria into the left side of the area and the Argentina forward beat Daniel Alves to the perfectly weighted ball to find Ronaldo at the far post for the winner at the site of both clubs' last cup win - Madrid over Zaragoza and Barcelona over Athletic Bilbao in 2009.

Setback for Arsenal


LONDON — Chelsea overtook Arsenal as Manchester United's closest rival for the Premier League title on Wednesday after the Gunners surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Tottenham.

Arsenal led 3-1 but Tom Huddlestone got a goal back before halftime and Rafael van der Vaart equalized with a 70th-minute penalty to push its fiercest rival down to third place.

Defending champion Chelsea moved above Arsenal on goal difference after Florent Malouda scored either side of a goal by Salomon Kalou for a straightforward 3-1 win over Birmingham.

United is six points ahead of its rivals with five games remaining, but must still play both sides.

"Chelsea's now back in the race," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "It's down to us to keep our faith and keep battling. We'll not always draw when we score three goals."

But Arsenal has now drawn four of its last five Premier League matches, with three straight games at home exactly accounting for the margin now between it and United.

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