Spain: A crucial late strike from the forward ensured Jose Mourinho`s men will take an away goal to the Bernabeu next month, after Mario Bermejo and Christian Bustos had put Celta ahead.
Celta Vigo secured a famous 2-1 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of a dramatic Copa del Rey last-16 clash at the Balaidos Stadium - but were left cursing the concession of a late goal to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Jose Mourinho named a strong side for the game in Galicia but the visitors were strangely subdued for long periods and it came as no surprise when they fell behind early in the second half, with Mario Bermejo slotting home from close range.
Cristian Bustos then deservedly doubled Celta`s advantage with a stunning strike from distance only for Ronaldo to put a completely different slant on the tie by netting with just three minutes remaining.
The visitors had looked to make an early impact, but Celta shot-stopper Sergio Alvarez was equal to Angel Di Maria’s effort in the first minute. Minutes later, Michael Essien managed to rob Borja Oubina of possession before bringing the ball forward and attempt an audacious effort from distance, only for Sergio to comfortably claim.
Los Blancos continued to pressure the Celta goal in search for the opener, but the Galicians were dangerous on the counter and could’ve found themselves in front in the 15th minute. Iago Aspas was threaded through on the left by Michael Krohn-Delhi, who managed to pick out Park Chu-Young at the back post. The on-loan Arsenal man couldn’t quite wrap his foot around the ball, though, and his effort went out of play for a goal kick.
Madid then lost Karim Benzema to a suspected ankle injury but Cristiano Ronaldo continued to lead the line to good effect and the Portugal international tested Sergio again with another long-range effort that the Celta keeper held onto well.
At the other end, Aspas drove forward on the right and picked out an inch-perfect pass for Park. The South Korean international couldn’t get enough power behind his shot at goal and Pepe was able to block his chance as Celta pressed for the opener at the end of the first half.
Celta could’ve taken the lead with the last attack of the half. Pepe unnecessarily gave away a corner for Real, which was swung in by Krohn-Delhi. The Dane picked out Park, but his header flashed inches wide of the far post and out for a goal kick.
The hosts began the brighter of the two sides after the interval and were rewarded 10 minutes after the restart. Krohn-Delhi did well on the left of the 18-yard box before crossing. Park was in an offside position and left the ball to run to Bermejo, who, with the Real defence at a standstill, calmly slotted past Antonio Adan to open the scoring.
Real threw Kaka into the fold as they looked to net an away goal, but it was Luka Modric who had the best opportunity for the visitors following the restart. Xabi Alonso lofted a ball towards Ronaldo, only to see Lago head away. His clearance was poor and it fell to the Croatian, whose effort was matched by Sergio in the Celta net.
The Spaniard was called upon again just moments later, but the Galicians` number one was hand to deny Ronaldo at the near post before Augutso Fernandez looked to double Celta`s advantage at the other end, only for Adan to block the Argentine`s effort.
First Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 08:24