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Unlikely heroes earn Barça Clásico honours

Published: Wednesday 18 January 2012, 23.57CET
Second-half goals from Carles Puyol and Éric Abidal enabled FC Barcelona to continue their recent hold over Real Madrid CF with a 2-1 Copa del Rey quarter-final first-leg victory.
Unlikely heroes earn Barça Clásico honours
Éric Abidal fires in Barcelona's winner ©AFP
Published: Wednesday 18 January 2012, 23.57CET

Unlikely heroes earn Barça Clásico honours

Second-half goals from Carles Puyol and Éric Abidal enabled FC Barcelona to continue their recent hold over Real Madrid CF with a 2-1 Copa del Rey quarter-final first-leg victory.

FC Barcelona came from behind to win their Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg 2-1 at Real Madrid CF and extend coach Josep Guardiola's record to nine victories from 13 Clásicos.

Madrid went into the game on a run of 22 wins in 23 matches in all competitions – the only blot being December's 3-1 Liga home defeat by Barcelona – and they hit the front through Cristiano Ronaldo after 11 minutes. However, the European champions equalised through Carles Puyol (49) and completed the turnaround 13 minutes from time courtesy of Éric Abidal.

The Merengues started brightly and were rewarded when Karim Benzema released Ronaldo down the left and the Portuguese international hammered a low shot through the legs of José Pinto. Barça's response was almost instant as Alexis Sánchez's looping header cannoned off the woodwork and the visitors created further chances in the opening half-hour that Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta failed to convert.

The Blaugrana, who had overturned a deficit to win the clubs' last Liga meeting, levelled when Puyol was left unmarked to nod in a corner from six metres. Both sides struck the frame of the goal as Iniesta's deflected volley clattered the bar before Benzema's header clipped the outside of the post. Guardiola's team had the final say, though, as Messi's chip found Abidal and the full-back stabbed his finish past Iker Casillas.

The evening's other quarter-final first leg ended in a 2-0 success for Athletic Club at home to RCD Mallorca. Fernando Llorente nodded in powerfully from close range to earn a first-half lead before Iker Muniain made it 2-0 on the hour with an equally composed header. Both ties conclude next Wednesday.

Last updated: 19/01/12 12.37CET

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