The stage was set for a thrilling encounter between Real Madrid and Barcelona last night in the neutral city of Valencia, where the steep-sided Mestalla Stadium added atmosphere to a Copa del Rey final that both teams were desperate to win.
Missing for the match was Real Madrid’s star striker Cristiano Ronaldo who has scored 45 goals in all competitions this season after straining a hamstring in their Champions League encounter with Dortmund, and with still five matches remaining in La Liga Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti did not want to risk him in the cup final preferring to rest him for Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich on April 23.
One man who would be playing though was Los Blanco’s record signing Gareth Bale who despite having joined Madrid from Tottenham last summer for 100 million euro’s had failed to live up to all the hype from the media.
Sceptics of the young Welsh winger will all be quiet on Thursday though after Bale scored the winning goal with just five minutes left to play when he charged down the side-lines from the halfway mark beating Barcelona defender Marc Bartra for speed before heading into the penalty area to expertly place the ball between the legs of Barca shot stopper Jose Manuel Pinto to claim a special victory and a meeting with the king.
When asked by Sky Sports how it felt to win his first trophy in Spain the Welsh wizard said:
“It is great to win trophies and I am very happy to have won my first title with Real Madrid.
“It’s a dream come true, not just because I scored but because of the work of the whole team.
“This win is for all the fans and we hope that it will be the first of many to come. Thank you all for your support during the season. We have worked hard as a team.”
When asked about his brilliant goal Bale said: “I had to run, Bartra pushed me and tried to block me but he couldn’t.”
“I had to get around him. It was great to score the goal but better to win the match and the Cup.”
Real Madrid is still involved in the race for the La Liga title and also through to the semi-final of the Champions League where they will meet Bayern Munich in the first-leg at the Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday night.
“It was really special. We’ve won the first of the three available titles and we have to keep fighting for everything. But now we have to be thinking about the next game and nothing else,” said Bale.
You can watch Bale’s amazing goal in the video below.