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Bale fires Madrid to Copa del Rey triumph

Published: Thursday 17 April 2014, 0.30CET
Real Madrid CF etched their name onto the Copa del Rey for a 19th time with victory against FC Barcelona, winning scorer Gareth Bale saying: "This is the realisation of a dream."
Bale fires Madrid to Copa del Rey triumph
Real Madrid celebrate with the trophy ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Thursday 17 April 2014, 0.30CET

Bale fires Madrid to Copa del Rey triumph

Real Madrid CF etched their name onto the Copa del Rey for a 19th time with victory against FC Barcelona, winning scorer Gareth Bale saying: "This is the realisation of a dream."

Real Madrid CF are Copa del Rey champions for a 19th time after Gareth Bale's 85th-minute strike won the day for Carlo Ancelotti's side against FC Barcelona at Mestalla.

Ángel Di María's fourth goal of the tournament set Madrid on their way in the first half, yet their opponents rallied and were on level terms through Marc Bartra's header after the restart. Both teams pushed for a winner thereafter but it was Bale who scored it to condemn Madrid's Clásico rivals to a third successive defeat in all competitions for the first time since 2003.

"This is the realisation of a dream; I came to Madrid to win titles and I hope that this will be the first of many," Bale said. "This year we can lift all three [of Liga, UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey] and we are going to fight hard in order to do so."

The Merengues enjoyed a bright start to what was a seventh Copa del Rey final between these sides and, shortly after Bale's effort edged past an upright, they were ahead 11 minutes in. After stealing possession in his own half, Isco quickly released Karim Benzema, who in turn played a pass through for the onrushing Di María. Drifting left, the Argentine fired low across goalkeeper José Manuel Pinto whose touch could not prevent the ball from rolling in

Barcelona's only defeat in five previous final appearances in this competition came against Madrid in 2011; looking to avoid a repeat, Gerardo Martino's men probed for an equaliser. The Liga title holders were forced to wait until the 69th minute to find it, however, with Bartra – only declared fit shortly prior to kick-off – pulling away from Pepe before arcing a header from Xavi Hernández's corner into the top corner of the net.

Appearing in a record 39th Copa showpiece, Madrid rallied and almost retook the lead when Luka Modrić's shot from distance struck the outside of a post. Ancelotti's side soon backed up that warning by hitting the front in the closing stages, with Bale bursting past Bartra on the left, angling towards goal and poking through Pinto's legs from close range. Neymar then struck the woodwork in the dying minutes but Madrid hung on.

Club captain Iker Casillas lifted the trophy then led the victorious squad on their traditional victory route in Madrid's Plaza de Cibeles in the early hours of the morning. "I really hope we will be back here [to celebrate winning] the remaining competitions this season," the goalkeeper said.

Last updated: 17/04/14 9.32CET

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