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Real widen Barca’s crisis

Cristiano Ronaldo continued his fine goal scoring record at the Nou Camp with a brace as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 to go through to the final of the King’s Cup 4-2 on aggregate.

The Portuguese hit a first half penalty and then knocked in a rebound after the break as Real took full advantage of their counter-attacks.

Raphael Varane headed the third after 68 minutes while Jordi Alba got a late consolation.

Real Madrid will now take on the winners of Sevilla and Atletico Madrid who play on Wednesday, the capital side enjoying a 2-1 lead from their first leg.

Ronaldo has now scored in his last six visits to the Catalan capital and came out on top in his personal battle with Lionel Messi, who was largely anonymous in the game.

The Argentine, however, has the chance to respond when the pair meet again in the league at the weekend.

This was the vital game though for Real who trail leaders Barcelona by 16 points in La Liga after a poor campaign and it is their best chance of picking up some silverware outside of the Champions League, in which they are evenly poised against Manchester United after a 1-1 first leg draw at the Bernabeu.

Ronaldo knocked the ball around Gerard Pique inside the area and his former Manchester United teammate brought him down for a spot-kick which the Portuguese converted.

Barca were hoping for a penalty of their own moments later but the referee waved away appeals for a foul by Alvaro Arbeloa on Cesc and it showed how the home side were becoming more frustrated at their inability to create clear-cut chances.

Real were defending well while they continued to threaten through Ronaldo counter-attacks. Barca did win a free-kick on the edge of the area for a foul by Arbeloa after on Iniesta for which he was booked after 37 minutes and Messi’s shot went a whisker past the post.

Barca attacked with renewed vigour after the break but it was Real who scored again after 57 minutes.

Di Maria skipped round Carles Puyol and ‘keeper Victor Valdes could only parry his shot to Ronaldo who kept his composure to slot home.

The Catalan side looked stunned and lost their shape at the back as Real cut them apart. Varane got their third as he outjumped the Barca defence at a corner.
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