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REAL MADRID

Ronaldo scores twice as Real cruise into Cup final

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot and was also hit on the head by a lighter thrown from the crowd as Real Madrid sealed their place in the Copa del Rey final with a 2-0 win (5-0 on aggregate) over holders Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo scores twice as Real cruise into Cup final
Any chance of Atletico recovering from their 3-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu last week was extinguished after just seven minutes by Ronaldo. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

Any chance of Atletico recovering from their 3-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu last week was extinguished after just seven minutes when Ronaldo opened the scoring after being upended by Manquillo.

The Portuguese star doubled his tally nine minutes later from another penalty as this time Gareth Bale was felled by Emiliano Insua.

Ronaldo's eventful evening continued as, moments after being booked for a clash with Manquillo, he was then hit by a lighter thrown by the Atletico fans as the players headed to the dressing rooms at half-time.

The Ballon d'Or winner was however fit to continue at the start of the second-half before being substituted late on.

Real will face either Barcelona or Real Sociedad in the final on April 19th with Barca holding a 2-0 advantage heading into the second leg of their semi-final on Wednesday.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted that Ronaldo was fine after being struck and lauded his side's feat of reaching the final on the back of eight consecutive clean sheets in the Cup this season.

"Cristiano is fine, he scored two goals and he doesn't have any problems," he said.

"We are still alive in all competitions and whilst this is the least important of the three in comparison to La Liga or the Champions League, to get to a final is always a good thing for the team.

"We have played well in all the Cup games. We have kept a clean sheets throughout and this speaks well of the mentality of the team."

Atletico boss Diego Simeone appeared to have given up any hope of an unlikely comeback from the off as he rested Juanfran, Diego Godin, Arda Turan and captain Gabi, whilst four more first-team regulars missed out through injury and suspension.

However, despite suffering three defeats in a week, Simeone is hoping for a positive reaction from his side as they too have La Liga and Champions League honours to fight for in the coming weeks.

"You are never happy to lose or go out of a competition, much less in this manner losing 5-0.

"Last year we managed to win this competition, this year we got to the semi-finals. You can always do better as a team, but now we will continue with the same desire as before and we want to remain competitive."

Ancelotti named a strong side and was rewarded with the away goal that killed the tie off when Ronaldo converted from the spot after tumbling under Manquillo's clumsy challenge inside the area.

Atletico briefly threatened a revival when Raul Garcia struck the post moments later.

However, it was 2-0 after just 16 minutes as this time Bale went down under a challenge by Insua and Ronaldo again struck the resulting spot-kick low into the right-hand corner of Daniel Aranzubia's net.

With the tie effectively over as a contest, the only spice was added by unfortunate events off the field as Ronaldo was struck as he headed towards the tunnel at half-time.

The former Manchester United man did return for the second period, but he was unable to complete his hat-trick before being replaced by Jese Rodriguez 15 minutes from time.

Bale and Isco both had efforts well saved by Aranzubia as Real continued to look the more likely to score after the break.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Jose Sosa's drive that forced Iker Casillas into a flying save was the best that Atletico could muster as they slipped to their first home defeat of the season.

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FOOTBALL

Thousands of Atletico fans flock to Madrid’s Neptune fountain to cheer league victory

Thousands of Atletico Madrid fans defied the authorities by taking to the streets of the Spanish capital to celebrate on Saturday night after victory over Real Valladolid secured their team an 11th league title.

Thousands of Atletico fans flock to Madrid's Neptune fountain to cheer league victory
Spanish policemen stand guard around Atletico Madrid´s supporters outside the Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

As soon as the full-time whistle blew in Valladolid to confirm a 2-1 win, Atleti supporters flocked to the Neptune fountain in the centre of Madrid, in
line with tradition but defying Covid-19 rules regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing.

“I was confident Atletico would win. It was like a final and being against Valladolid, I knew we were going to win,” Federico Gonzalez, 46, and among the crowds, told AFP.

A large police presence surrounded the fountain, with several vans also present to prevent people from approaching the fountain, which had been lit up in Atletico’s red and white colours.

Fans waved flags and scarves while others set off flares as darkness fell, the celebrations going on into the night after Atletico’s second La Liga title in seven years.

“It is a joy. From the beginning of the game I was overcome with nerves because Atleti plays each game in its own way and you just never know”, said Carlota Maestro, 20, who came to the city centre with three friends.

Amid shouts of “Atleti, Atleti” and “Campeones”, the rojiblancos fans danced, jumped and hugged each other. Cars and motorbikes drove by honking
their horns, some with red and white flags poking out of the windows.

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant Atletico’s fans have not been allowed to attend matches this season and their celebrations defied the recommendations of the authorities.

Fans ignored rules on social distancing and many were not wearing masks. “Please, I ask the Atletico fans not to go to Neptune,” wrote the mayor of
Madrid, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, himself an Atletico supporter, on Twitter. “I am the first to understand the desire to celebrate but this is not the time.”

“It is a strange celebration, because we have not been able to do it like normal, on the field, surrounded by other fans,” said Pablo Diaz, a 22-year-old fan. “We celebrate it but with a little fear, being careful, and wearing a mask.”

Hundreds of other fans had accompanied the team to Valladolid, where they watched the game on their phones in the car park outside the stadium.

After the match, Atletico’s ran out of the stadium to celebrate with the supporters they had not seen all season.

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