Barcelona win again at hapless Real Madrid
World champions Barcelona turned on the old style to win 2-1 at historic rivals Real Madrid on Wednesday, in an intriguing and high-quality Spanish cup quarter-final first leg clash, dpa reported.
Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real the lead, only for Barca to once again turn the tables on them, this time with goals from veteran defenders Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal.
This is the second time that Barca have won in the Estadio Bernabeu this winter. In December they came from behind to win 3-1 in La Liga.
The Catalans were keen to take revenge for last season's cup final defeat against Real. They are now well placed to go through to the semi-finals given that the result obliges the whites to win the second leg in the Camp Nou on January 25, something they have not been able to achieve since 2007.
Real coach Jose Mourinho - whose team are five points clear of barca in La Liga - has only managed to beat Barca once in nine games since taking over in Madrid in 2010.
Mourinho surprised the madridista fans by bringing reserves Hamit Altintop, Ricardo Carvalho and Fabio Coentrao into defence, and moving centre-back Pepe into midfield.
Pepe was lucky not to be sent off for deliberately treading on the hand of FIFA World Player Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo gave Real the lead after just 12 minutes by skipping around Gerard Pique and scoring with a low drive which went through the legs of Barca keeper Jose Pinto.
It was only Ronaldo's second goal for Real against Barca in 11 games, but it came against the run of play because, as expected, Barca were dominating possession.
Andres Iniesta should have equalized for the visitors on the half hour but missed from close range.
Five minutes into the second half, though, Puyol made it 1-1 by acrobatically heading in a corner from fellow veteran Xavi.
Barca's domination continued Iniesta and Sergio Busquets came close to putting them ahead. At the other end, Real's in-form Karim Benzema hit the Barca post.
Barca's well-deserved winning goal came 12 minutes from time. Messi exquisitely set up Abidal down the left and the French defender made it 2-1 with his trusty left foot after controlling well with his chest.
In the semi-finals, the winners of the Real-Barca tie will face either Valencia or Levante, who play their first leg on Thursday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Athletic Bilbao left themselves well placed for the semis by beating Mallorca 2-0 at home, with goals from Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain.
The quarter-finals started on Tuesday, with Espanyol coming from behind to beat third division Mirandes 3-2 at home.