Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: First blood to Blaugrana in stodgy Copa del Rey Clasico
Real Madrid failed to make their pressure pay in a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final.
Despite dominating much of the match, the home team failed to fire off a shot on target at the Bernabeu as Eder Militao put through his own net to decide Thursday’s Clasico.
It was a derby full of bluster and low on cutting edge that, at least, sets up a finely-poised tie ahead of next month’s second leg after the Catalans forged a lead to defend at the Camp Nou despite the absence of Robert Lewandowski.
Barcelona’s opener came against the run of play with Madrid on top since the very first minute, when Luka Modric burst in behind and shot into the side netting. Flagged offside, replays suggested VAR would have seen it differently.
There was no doubt that Karim Benzema was offside when he immaculately controlled Vinicius Jr’s 12th-minute cross to bury a disallowed goal.
Real remained on top but began to let their frustrations get the better of them, Vinicius Jr in particular furious with referee Jose Luis Munuera Montero for coming out of a 50/50 grapple with Frenkie de Jong on a yellow card.
The official’s hestiation to book Gavi for regularly bundling over Madrid players further angered the hosts, who fell behind when Eduardo Camavinga gave the ball away inside his own half and Franck Kessie was played in behind. Thibaut Courtois repelled his low effort, only for Eder Militao to rebound it home with a VAR check ruling out an initial offside call.
Real failed to reignite their fire after the setback, Dani Carvajal blazing over the bar in their only real chance in the remainder of the first half.
Barça lead at the Bernabéu 😅
Franck Kessié's effort ricochets off Éder Militão to put the visitors ahead in the tie.. pic.twitter.com/BhIS45d8J8
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 2, 2023
After the break, Los Blancos were patient but lacked cutting edge against a Barcelona side with a completely new defence from their defeat on the weekend, which constantly rejected crosses into the box under the commanding guidance of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
It was Barcelona who forged the best chances of the second half as Raphinha flashed a cross through the six-yard box before substitute Ansu Fati inadvertently blocked Kessie’s goalbound shot on 72 minutes.
Carlo Ancelotti threw on Rodrygo and Alvaro Rodriguez off the bench, the latter having scored the weekend’s late equaliser at home to Atletico Madrid. But there would be no trademark heroics for Real, who head to the Camp Nou for next month’s second leg a goal down.