Barcelona triumph in rainy Spain

Catalan giants book their ticket to Wembley despite drawing 1-1 against Real Madrid at Camp Nou.

    Real's Marcelo scored the equaliser but his side were no match for a hugely dominant Barcelona [AFP]

    Barcelona secured their spot in the European Champions League final on Wednesday night.

    At a waterlogged Camp Nou stadium, Barcelona reached their second final in three years with a 1-1 second-leg draw to Real Madrid, putting them through 3-1 on aggregate.

    The Primera Division leaders rose above the controversy of the ill-tempered first-leg clash with a dominant performance that left Real Madrid searching for answers.

    Andres Iniesta made a triumphant return from injury to feed a through ball to Pedro Rodriguez for the 54th minute opener before Angel Di Maria found Marcelo with a short pass for Real’s equaliser 10 minutes later.

    Barcelona look likely to meet Manchester United in the final after United's 2-0 aggregate first-leg win over German side Schalke gave them a strong advantage.

    A thrilling final at Wembley on May 28 awaits.

    Chasing shadows

    Real Madrid pressed forward with Cristiano Ronaldo dangerous on the left wing but every time Barca took possession in midfield the Real defence looked threatened.

    Ricardo Carvalho, who missed the first leg through suspension, went in the book after 11 minutes for bringing down Lionel Messi as he tore through the Real half, while there were several other borderline yellow card challenges.

    An unmarked Sergio Busquets headed straight at 'keeper Iker Casillas from a corner but generally the game was simmering and it was Messi who threatened to bring it to the boil in the run up to half time.

    The Real defenders were bunching up as they tried to halt his forays and he tested Casillas with a couple of shots from the edge of the area. The shot-stopper then made an excellent stop to deny a curling David Villa strike.

    After the break Real attacked with renewed vigour and Barça were looking edgy. In a strange decision by the referee a goal was ruled out for Higuain for a foul by Ronaldo on Mascherano although he himself had been pushed by Gerard Pique.

    The slippery conditions were also making it difficult for the Barca defence but the more Real attacked the greater chance they would be caught on the counter-attack and that is what happened.

    Dani Alves ran down the wing and played the ball inside to Iniesta who found Pedro with a brilliant through ball and he finished calmly with just the keeper to beat.


    The contest looked over but Real kept pushing and got their reward when Marcelo swept the ball home.

    Results & Fixtures

    Tuesday May 3

     Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid (agg 3-1)

    Wednesday May 4

     Man Utd v Schalke 04
    (agg 2-0)

    Di Maria nutmegged Mascherano and while he was unlucky to see his shot come back off the post, he kept his composure to set up Marcelo.

    The close of the match however fell into the pattern of fouls, time-wasting and feigning injury before the 95,701 attendance let out an enormous cheer for substitute Eric Abidal in the 90th as the Barcelona defender played for the first time since undergoing surgery to remove a liver tumour in March.

    A massive thunderstorm had broken over the stadium a couple of hours before kickoff, drenching the huge arena but the adverse weather conditions did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Barca faithful.

    Real coach Jose Mourinho, a former Barca assistant who knocked the Catalan club out at the same stage last season with Inter Milan, was absent from the bench after being sent to the stands in the first leg.

    There was debate about where he would watch the game. In the end though he chose to stay at the team hotel.

    "We have to lift our heads up and be proud," Real captain Casillas said in an interview with Spanish television as the Barca players celebrated wildly on the pitch.

    "Anything we say now could be used against us," he added, referring to the bad blood that boiled up between the two teams in recent weeks when they met four times in 18 days in three competitions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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