Barcelona hold off Real Madrid to reach another final

Barcelona hold off Real Madrid to reach another final

Barcelona reached their third Champions Cup final within five years on Tuesday with a 1-1 draw at home to old enemy Real Madrid, dpa reported.

Barca go into the final on a 3-1 aggregate, because they won the first leg 2-0 in Madrid.

Barca enjoyed the best chances but did not take the lead until the 55th minute, when little winger Pedro put them ahead. 10 minutes later Marcelo levelled for Real, who never seemed capable of pulling off a miracle.

In the final Barca will probably meet Manchester United, who beat Schalke 04 2-o away in the first leg of the other semi-final. The second leg will be played in Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The Barca-Real clash was not quite as ugly and bad-tempered as the first leg, possibly because Real coach Jose Mourinho - suspended from the touchline after being sent off in the first leg - decided to watch the game from the hotel rather than the stands.

The mere presence of Mourinho inside the Camp Nou would have inflamed the 96,000 capacity crowd, and could have turned a tense game into a violent one.

The natch was slowed up by a wet pitch and intermittent rain.

Real entered the game knowing that they could not afford to be as defensive and cautious as in the first leg. Therefore, Mourinho decided to support Cristiano Ronaldo in attack with Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain, neither of whom started the first leg.

The whites made an aggressive start, pressing Barca powerfully in midfield, but failed to create any clear chances.

Barca slowly but surely imposed their writ, enjoying 65 per cent possession with their legendary short-passing game and creating chance after chance.

Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi and David Villa were all foiled by Real keeper Iker Casillas.

There was controversy in the 48th minute when Higuain had a goal harshly disallowed for a supposed foul by Cristiano Ronaldo on Javier Mascherano, when Ronaldo had been in fact pushed by Barca's Gerard Pique.

Seven minutes later came Barca's goal. Andres Iniesta found Pedro free down the right with an inch-perfect pass. The little winger controlled with his right foot then calmly made it 1-0 with his left foot, with a precise near-post drive.

Marcelo equalized for Real 10 minutes later after being set up by Angel Di Maria. The Argentine winger had hit the Barca post with a left-foot drive. He calmly controlled the rebound and fed Marcelo to make it 1-1 from close range.

Real still needed two more goals but never looked capable of scoring them. Barca, for their part, were content to play keep-ball and run down the clock.

Eric Abidal, who was diagnosed with a liver tumor two months ago, came on as a late sub, to the delight of the Camp Nou. The Barca players celebrated the final whistle by delightedly throwing the popular French defender up into the air, as if he were the coach.

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