Ronaldo puts Madrid past Barca to Copa final
By Joseph Wilson APBARCELONA -- Cristiano Ronaldo is starting to look right at home at the Camp Nou.
February 28, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
For Lionel Messi and Barcelona, the Spanish league is starting to look like the only trophy they will win this season.
Ronaldo outshone Messi in the Argentine's own stadium on Tuesday, scoring twice to put Real Madrid into the Copa del Rey final with a 3-1 win at defending champion Barcelona.
After salvaging a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their semifinal, Madrid neutralized Barcelona's passing game and counterattacked to perfection to hand its archrival a first home loss in any competition since last April.
“We played a great game,” Ronaldo said. “We faced the game with a serious attitude, played better (than Barcelona) and scored three goals, which is tough to do.”
It was also a second straight cup setback for the Catalan club, which is running away with the Spanish league but lost 2-0 at AC Milan in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 matchup — and will need a much-improved performance in the return to stay in the hunt for a fourth European Cup in eight years.
While Messi was subdued for most of the night, Ronaldo scored for a sixth straight visit to Camp Nou when he earned and converted a penalty in the 13th minute. Ronaldo hit again on the break in the 57th before Raphael Varane got his second goal of the series in the 68th to turn a convincing win into a rout.
Defender Jordi Alba pulled a late goal back for Barcelona, but it was much too late to prevent Madrid from going through 4-2 on aggregate.
Madrid will play either Atletico Madrid or Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on May 18.
After struggling in his first encounters with Barcelona, Ronaldo has become a nemesis for the Catalan club by scoring goals that have directly contributed to them losing titles the past three seasons.
Ronaldo also scored at the Camp Nou to dethrone Barcelona as league champions last season — after also netting the winning header against Barcelona in the 2011 cup final.