09 January 2013
Real Madrid qualified for the quarter-finals of the Spanish Cup. The Whites secured their comeback against Celta in a first half in which they gave a football master class. They had scored two goals with barely 24 minutes on the clock, both the work of Cristiano Ronaldo, enjoyed an infinite number of chances to increase their lead, had not had a shot on their own goal and even had another goal unfairly ruled out before the end of the first half. In the second half, and with 18 minutes of normal time remaining, the sending off of Sergio Ramos for two yellow cards complicated the matter of qualifying for the next round, but Madrid, who played for the second consecutive match with 10 men, once again demonstrated their class and pride. Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the performance with a counter-attack started by Higuían in the eighty-seventh minute to score his first hat-trick of 2013 and ensure qualification for the next round. Khedira, after an assist from the Portuguese, completed the rout in the eighty-ninth minute. Valencia await.
Real Madrid faced a game of life or death at the Bernabeu. The team’s second of the season after the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona. Using the support of the Santiago Bernabeu, where they have been unbeaten for almost a year, as the foundation for the match, the Whites wanted to demonstrate their credentials from the moment they went out onto the pitch. In fact, in the third minute, and with their first shot on goal, they went ahead. A throw-in taken by Arbeloa arrived at the feet of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was two metres from the touch-line. The Portuguese advanced and surprised Sergio with a fierce shot struck with the venom the Portuguese normally puts into his shots on goal. 1-0. The Portuguese has started 2013 in sublime form (later his fourth and firth goals of the year would arrive in what is only the second game he has played) and with an extremely high level of confidence.
Real Madrid once again demonstrated that they were going for the jugular at the Santiago Bernabeu. Against Real Sociedad they took two minutes to score, today they needed only a minute more. Their control of the ball and aggressive pressing to regain it when Celta tried to play confirmed as much. The home side were now in control of the knock-out tie, but there was still a lot of the match to go. Cristiano Ronaldo once again took charge of removing any shred of doubt about the result in a move that was practically a carbon copy of that which led to the goal in Balaídos. On this occasion it was not Xabi Alonso but Modric who passed the ball over the defence. The Portuguese made the most of the gift from the Croatian, volleying quickly with his left foot in the twenty-fourth minute.
The third goal could have come eleven minutes later, but Özil could not beat Sergio in a one-on-one. However, the third goal did arrive in the next move of the match, but referee Ayza Gámez ruled it out for offside against Cristiano Ronaldo, who was clearly not ahead of the last man, depriving the Portuguese of his hat-trick after 36 minutes of the match. The first half saw the home side put on an exhibition. The Whites had scored two goals, enjoyed an infinite number of chances to increase their lead, had not had a shot on their own goal and even had another goal unfairly ruled out.
The hat-trick by Ronaldo and the goal by Khedira sealed the comeback in the second half
Xabi Alonso, who was accidentally hit on the neck by De Lucas on the stroke of half time stayed in the dressing room. Essien took his place on the pitch while Varane, Alonso’s substitute, played in the centre of the defence and Ramos on the right wing (after ten minute the Frenchman and the player from Seville switched positions). The team’s attitude did not change. Aware that a goal by Celta would take the clash to extra time, the Whites returned to the pitch intent on controlling the match.
De Lucas tested Casillas for the first time in the sixty-eighth minute, but the captain’s response could not have been better. The sending-off of Sergio Ramos for two yellow cards with 18 minutes of normal time left complicated the matter of qualifying for the next round of the cup, but Casillas was assured in goal and prevented the visiting side from scoring on two occasions. Real Madrid, playing for the second consecutive match with 10 men, once again demonstrated class and pride and ensured their qualification for the next round in the eighty-seventh minute with the hat-trick by Cristiano Ronaldo in a counter-attack started by Higuían. Khedira, after an assist by the Portuguese, completed the rout in the eighty-ninth minute. Valencia await in the quarter-finals.