Barça toppled from throne

Real Madrid wins King's Cup final with first victory over foe since 2008

Seventeen years after its last King's Cup triumph - and three years after its last success of any kind - José Mourinho on Wednesday night delivered Real Madrid a trophy in the final of Spain's domestic knock-out tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal of the game, in extra time, in what was Real's first victory against Pep Guardiola's all-conquering Barcelona team. In fact, Real had not even scored against its eternal rival in open play since May 2009 before Wednesday's game.

"There are people who will criticize [Real's tactical set-up] because for many people a good game of soccer needs possession of the ball," the Portuguese said after the match. "For me a good game can have solid defensive work, a great counterattack and many other things."

Barcelona honorary president Johan Cruyff had taken a swipe at Mourinho for fielding seven defensive players in the league fixture and the Real coach fielded the same formation at Mestalla, even going one further by omitting a recognized striker until Emmanuel Adebayor's second-half introduction. Barcelona enjoyed almost 70 percent of possession, but ownership of the cup went to the counterattacking Real.

Neither fact did little to dampen Real's attacking verve though, with both sides narrowly splitting 24 shots on goal between them. Iker Casillas and José Manuel Pinto both had busy nights in opposing goals and each pulled off match-saving stops during the first 90 minutes. Pinto, Barça's reserve goalkeeper, was eventually beaten by a bullet header from Ronaldo on 102 minutes but the back-up custodian was not at fault; such was the power of Ronaldo's effort that no keeper in the world could have prevented its passage to the back of the net.

Real's first win over Barça in three years is timely for both Mourinho and Real. Breaking the Catalan club's hegemony over his team and delivering a title in his first season in charge is a greater return than common perception forecast before the two sides began the ongoing clásico series. It has also swung momentum in Real's favor ahead of the biggest prize of all: the Champions League final. Morale will be at its zenith ahead of the first leg at the Bernabéu next week and confidence high that Barcelona can be prevented from scoring.

Real will also believe, perhaps for the first time in a while, that it can breach Camp Nou in the return fixture: although not technically an away goal, Ronaldo's was the first netted by Real against Barça outside Madrid since Júlio Baptista's strike at Camp Nou in December 2007.

Real players hoist José Mourinho aloft after defeating Barcelona 1-0 in the final of the King's Cup, the side's first trophy in three years.
Real players hoist José Mourinho aloft after defeating Barcelona 1-0 in the final of the King's Cup, the side's first trophy in three years.ISRAEL LÓPEZ (AP)
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