Benzema bullies Barcelona in Semifinal

Copa del Rey

After Carlo Ancelotti’s team produced an incredible comeback from their one-goal semi-final first leg disadvantage, Vinicius Junior scored shortly before halftime, and Benzema added a second-half hat trick. Benzema humiliated Barcelona in front of over 95,000 furious supporters on a sad night for coach Xavi Hernandez after scoring three goals against Real Valladolid at the weekend in La Liga.

Los Blancos won this match to advance to the Copa final for the first time since 2014, where they will play Osasuna. Los Blancos currently trail their arch-rivals by 12 points in La Liga and were defeated by Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final in January. Madrid eliminated the record-breaking 31-time cup winners with a powerful display on a tense night in Barcelona, when they also put an end to a demoralizing run of three straight Clasico losses.

Eder Militao’s own goal cost Ancelotti’s team the match in the first leg despite their dominance. In La Liga against Barcelona in March, the Catalans pulled off a last-second victory. When Los Blancos looked to overcome their slim deficit, Ancelotti started an offensive lineup with Toni Kroos as the deepest midfielder and Eduardo Camavinga at left-back.

Without Ousmane Dembele, Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, or Andreas Christensen, Xavi kept to the same strategy that has helped Barcelona defeat Madrid in recent weeks, starting four midfielders, including Gavi. Both sides were eager to go to the championship game and were fighting tooth and nail to avoid being eliminated by the opposing squad as the game got underway.

In the opening minutes, David Alaba vigorously appealed for a penalty after blocking Gavi’s cross with his arm while keeping his foot down on the ground for balance. Sergi Roberto’s shot was stopped by the Austrian defender as Vinicius and Ronald Araujo resumed their customary running duel at the other end.

As tempers flared, Barcelona coach Xavi received a booking for objecting to a foul on Franck Kessie. Lionel Messi’s name was being sung by thousands of Barcelona supporters in the 10th minute amid rumors that he would leave Paris Saint-Germain, and they would have adored some of the Argentinean’s magic. When Vinicius and Gavi started fighting, referee Juan Martinez Munuera arrived quickly to try to diffuse the situation. Both players were given yellow cards.

In stoppage time of the first half, Los Blancos seized the lead after showcasing their skill on the counterattack. About 20 seconds after Thibaut Courtois’ excellent save on Robert Lewandowski, Vinicius scored at the other end. Jules Kounde made his best effort to clear the goal line, but Rodrygo cut the ball back to the striker who managed to squeeze a shot home. Although Benzema was there to make sure, Vinicius’s effort had already gone too far.

After Luka Modric effortlessly slid past Sergi Roberto, the French forward was able to seize the opportunity and score lethally from the edge of the box in a sea of open space. Before the hour mark, Benzema scored his second goal from the penalty spot, sending Marc-Andre ter Stegen the wrong way after Kessie carelessly fouled Vinicius.

Barcelona tried to mount a comeback with the help of Ansu Fati, but they were unable. One-way traffic ensued as Ter Stegen denied Marco Asensio and Benzema finished off his hat-trick after a beautiful move and feed from Vinicius. Madrid have won the trophy 19 times, while their opponents, Osasuna, have never done so. After defeating Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, Osasuna advanced to their second final.

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