Nothing went right for Barcelona in the first 30 minutes. Real were rampant running all over Barca not allowing them a whiff of the ball. It took two defensive errors to turn things around at the Bernabeu as Pepe who made his return in this leg volleyed deep into the Barca defense.
One doesn’t quite know what Mascherano was thinking but he completely misjudges the trajectory and a lurking Gonzalo Higuain latches onto the ball and clear onto the goal making no mistake.
Madrid gets its second goal as Sami Khedira swings in another long ball from well beyond midfield which bounces off an unsighted Pique and Cristiano Ronaldo with a clever improvisation flicks it in front of him and then steams forward to collect the ball with a bit of a bobble. It gives time for Valdes to come out and narrow the angle while Pique recovers to straddle the goal line. Unfortunately for both, Ronaldo’s shot which is rushed and hit straight to Valdes deflects off the Barca goalie and past Pique.
Real thought they had a third after Pepe directs a header from a free kick but it was called back because the defender had pushed Mascherano down. Barca then went to ten men because Adriano brought down Ronaldo as he became the last man standing. No doubts about that red card. It was as horrible a half as any. It reminded one of Arsenal facing upto Didier Drogba a few years ago with Mikel Silvestre in a horrific mismatch and getting eaten alive.
With everything going against them, Barca still managed to pull a goal back as Leo Messi who also read Soccerblog’s article on the Magnus Effect used that law of physics to pull off a spectacular free kick that had the curve and the power to beat Iker Casillas. Brilliant. At the other end, Ronaldo almost matched Messi’s brilliance with a wickedly curving shot which went narrowly wide. The scoreline although tied 4-4 on aggregate suited Real because of the away goal advantage but with the minutes ticking down, it was Barca came close to snatching a win with Pedro being blocked by Casillas and then Alba denied by Ramos coming in the way.
Luka Modric made his debut seven minutes before close and for Barca, Alex Song had an impressive second half outing. Tito Vilanova made a few head scratchers bringing Cristian Tello while having players of quality like David Villa and Cesc Fabregas on the bench. Under Vilanova, Fabregas is playing less and less minutes.