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Bale leads Madrid 2-1 past Barca for Copa del Rey

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 16, 2014 at 8:00 pm •  Published: April 16, 2014

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Gareth Bale filled the void left by the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, sealing Real Madrid's 19th Copa del Rey title with a late goal in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Barcelona.

Ronaldo's extra-time play gave Madrid the 2011 Copa del Rey title at Barcelona's expense. In his absence Wednesday, Bale scored in the 85th minute — his first goal in three "clasico" matches — to make sure Madrid repeated the feat.

Angel Di Maria scored Madrid's opener from a counterattack in the 11th minute, capitalizing on a Barcelona lineup that seemed to lack ideas in attack and was slow to recover in defense.

Defender Marc Bartra equalized against the run of play in the 67th by heading in from a corner kick to ruin goalkeeper Iker Casillas' record run of not conceding in this edition of the tournament.

The goal appeared to energize Barcelona, sparking Lionel Messi into action and ensuring the last 15 minutes became a frenetic back-and-forth contest.

But with the game hanging in the balance, Bale got the winner when he sprinted down the left side of the pitch, even running out of bounds to avoid Bartra, before racing into the area and rolling the ball under goalkeeper Jose Pinto.

"It is difficult to see a player be able to sprint like that at that stage of the game," Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino said. "The game was going our way after we had leveled, until that counterattack."

Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said the goal was "surely the most important" of Bale's career, which took a major turn last summer when Madrid broke its own spending record to pay his €100-million transfer to pry him from Tottenham.

"It was a decisive moment. When Bartra scored anything could have happened," Ancelotti said.

Barcelona, however, still had one last chance, only for Neymar's shot to hit the upright in the 90th.

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