Real Madrid thrash Barcelona to advance to Copa del Rey final

Sports Desk, Apr 5 (EFE).- Karim Benzema posted a hat trick Wednesday as Real Madrid embarrassed Barcelona 4-0 in front of nearly 95,000 spectators at Camp Nou in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal for a 5-1 win on aggregate.

Barcelona, who lead defending champions Real Madrid by 12 points in the LaLiga title race, saw their hopes of a double destroyed by the 2022 Ballon d’Or and will now have to wait at least another year to extend their domination of a competition they have won a record 31 times.

The Blancos, with 16 Copas del Rey to their credit, will battle Osasuna in the May 6 final.

The hosts started this season’s fifth edition of El Clasico with a 3-1 advantage, having beaten Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final, the first leg of the Copa tie, and in their March 19 encounter in LaLiga.

While the Blaugrana set the pace for most of the first half on Wednesday, only Raphinha – in the 14th minute – and Robert Lewandowski tested Blancos goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

And the Belgian’s denial of the Polish striker in first-half stoppage time set up a counter that saw Vinicius Jr. score at the other end to level the tie at 1-1.

Benzema made it 2-0 on the night for the visitors just five minutes into the second half, assisted by 2018 Ballon d’Or Luka Modric.

Alejandro Balde forced Courtois into action in the 52nd minute and Raphinha fired just wide minutes later.

What proved to be the decisive moment came in the 57th minute, when Franck Kessie fouled Vini in the box and the referee pointed to the spot, setting the stage for Benzema to extend the Blancos’ edge to 3-0 (3-1).

From that point on, the closest Barcelona would come to pulling back a goal was a shot by Balde in the 67th minute that bounced harmlessly off Eder Militao.

With 10 minutes left in regulation, Vini made his way into the box and got the ball to Benzema, who chipped over Marc-Andre ter Stegen to complete the hat trick. EFE vmc/dr

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