Barcelona stunned as Benzema hat-trick sends Real into Copa del Rey final

Karim Benzema struck a hat-trick as Real Madrid thrashed arch-rivals and LaLiga leaders Barcelona 4-0 to reach the Copa del Rey final in stunning fashion on Wednesday.

Barca, who were looking for a fourth successive Clasico victory this season, looked set for the final having edged a 1-0 win in the first leg of the semi-final at the Bernabeu last month.

But after dominating the early stages of the second leg, they fell apart in unlikely fashion to lose 4-1 on aggregate.

Vinicius Junior gave Real the lead in first-half stoppage time following a lightning counter-attack and the semi-final was turned on its head when Benzema stroked a shot into the corner five minutes into the second half from a Luka Modric pass.

Eight minutes later, Vinicius was fouled in the area and Benzema thumped his penalty past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

With jeers echoing around the Nou Camp, Barcelona tried to respond but it was Real Madrid who looked the more likely to add to their tally with Benzema unstoppable.

In the 80th minute he was again set up by Vinicius to complete his second hat-trick in a matter of days having also hit a treble in the 6-0 destruction of Real Valladolid.

Real will fancy their chances of winning the trophy for a 20th time when they face Osasuna in the final on May 6 after they beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 on aggregate on Tuesday.

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, right, celebrates with Real Madrid's Karim Benzema after scoring his sides first goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey semifinal, second leg soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, April 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Mateu Parra)
Vinicius Junior put Real Madrid 1-0 up on the night in first-half stoppage time

Ancelotti praises ‘complete’ performance

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti said: “It was a complete match. If you don’t make it complete, you can’t win 0-4 here.

“In the first half, we had difficulties but the first goal changes the dynamics of the whole match.

“It’s a game in which personality and experience is a very important aspect. We mixed the energy of Rodrygo, Valverde and Camavinga with the experience of Vini, Modric, Kroos. They played a spectacular game.”

Xavi: It will be difficult to sleep

Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez: “Congratulations to Real Madrid, who had a great second half. If you show Madrid mercy, they don’t show you mercy.

“It will be hard to sleep, as I am from Barcelona and many of the squad are. But on Thursday, we think about Girona.”

What’s next?

Barcelona return to LaLiga action on Monday when they face Girona at the Nou Camp; kick-off 8pm. Xavi Hernandez’s side are currently 12 points ahead of Real Madrid at the top of the table with 11 games of the season remaining.

Up next for Real Madrid is a match against Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday; kick-off 8pm. Carlo Ancelotti’s team can close the gap to eight points before Barca play two days later. – ChatGPT autoblogging and content curation plugin for WordPress