Madrid, May 18 (IANS) Atletico Madrid ended a 14-year wait by defeating neighbours Real Madrid in the final of the Spanish Copa del Rey football knockout competition.
Atletico had not beaten their cross city rivals in 14 years and 26 attempts but despite falling a goal behind to a Cristiano Ronaldo, who was later be sent off, header, goals from Diego Costa and Joao Miranda gave Atletico a 2-1 win late Friday night, Xinhua reported.
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Pablo Simeone was emotional after leading his side to the club’s 10th Spanish Cup football title in their history.
“You think about your family in moments like this. They are a long way away, watching the game with friends in a room painted in Atletico colours and very emotional at what has happened,” said Simeone, whose side had some narrow escapes as Real hit the post three times.
“We had winners’ luck, but what these players have done in the year and a half since I arrived has no words to describe,” said Simeone, who has also taken Atletico to the Europa League and European Supercup titles.
One of the Atletico heroes was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who made two stunning injury time saves to retain his side’s lead.
“I am very happy. We had a bit of luck with their shots against the post but we played well. I made two good saves and I am very happy. I have had a bit of criticism in games against Real Madrid but today is a great day,” said Courtois, while Atletico midfielder Koke was also delighted after his side finally ended their 14-year wait in the best possible way.
“The fans have waited for 14 long years, we have played with the hearts of all of our fans behind us and we deserve to win,” he said.
Meanwhile Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, was sent off for protests against referee Clos Gomez in the second half.
“This is the worst season of my life. I have won just one title, which is not enough for me or a club like Real Madrid,” said Mourinho, who looked back over his three years at the club.
Real have failed to win more than the Spanish Supercup, while missing out in the Champions League, Primera Liga and now the Cup.
“I have failed this season. In my first season we won the cup and got to the semi-final of the Champions League and fought for the league until the end,” he said.
It was a tense, tight and at times bad-tempered affair in which Atletico captain Gabi Fernandez and Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, were also sent off.
Ronaldo out-jumped Diego Godin to leave Thibaut Courtois no chance in the Atletico goal. Atletico looked to get into the game more by heart than by their head and were rewarded for upping their work-rate after 36 minutes. Radamel Falcao fed Diego Costa to equalise with a low shot, which Diego Lopez got a touch on but was unable to keep out.
The goal saw Atletico take a step forward, but it was Real who came closest to scoring before the break when Mesut Ozil, slightly wasted on the right of midfield, hit a stunning volley against the post from outside of the penalty area.
Real made a triple change before extra time kicked off with Gonzalo Higuain, Angel De Maria and Alvaro Arbeloa replacing Benzema, Modric and Coentrao, while Atletico continued without making changes, although they should have taken the lead when Costa shot at Lopez when clean through on goal.
Ronaldo was sent off for catching Atletico’s Gabi in the face with the tip of his boot. That caused both ugly scenes between both dugouts with Simeone, Costa, Pepe and others involved, while in the Atletico goal, Courtois was hit by an object thrown from the Real supporters.
The stoppage led to five minutes of injury time with Real throwing everything forward, including Diego Lopez in the last foul of the game, but Atletico cleared to end their long long wait in the best possible style.