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Celta Vigo destroy Real Madrid’s treble dream with cup upset

Real Madrid will recover their killer instinct in front of goal, coach Zinedine Zidane warned as his side's treble ambitions ended with elimination from the Copa del Rey at the hands of Celta Vigo on Wednesday.

Celta Vigo destroy Real Madrid's treble dream with cup upset
Celta Vigo's Danish midfielder Daniel Wass celebrates after scoring his team's crucial second goal. Photo: AFP

A 2-2 draw on the night at Balaidos saw Celta progress to the semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate as Zidane's men have now failed to win in three of their last four games following a Spanish record 40-match unbeaten run.

“I am not worried, nor angry,” said the Frenchman. “Lately we've chances that we haven't taken, that will change.”

Just as in Saturday's 2-1 win over Malaga both Real's goals on the night came from set-pieces.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning free-kick and Lucas Vazquez's injury-time header from a corner weren't enough as Celta twice went in front on the night through a Danilo own goal and Daniel Wass's calm finish five minutes from time.

Zidane, though, rejected the claim that his side lack creativity, particularly with Luka Modric and James Rodriguez sidelined by injury.

“It is true that we didn't score from open play. There were two more goals from dead balls, but tactically we played a great game,” he added.

“My sensation is that we played very well and that we pushed the opponents all the way to the end.”

In total Madrid were missing seven first-team regulars with Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Pepe and Raphael Varane also out.

However, Vazquez believes it is unfair on those who came into the side to claim they were badly missed.

“We have shown throughout the whole season that whoever comes into the side responds,” the Spanish international told GolTV.

“Perhaps it is a bit opportunistic to say that today we missed the absentees.”

By contrast, Celta are now just three games away from landing a first ever major trophy.

Celta boss Eduardo Berizzo's decision to make eight changes at the weekend in a 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad to ensure his players were well-rested proved justified as the hosts withstood a second-half onslaught.

“The players were capable of knocking out a giant like Real Madrid,” said Berizzo.

“We knew we would have to suffer. Madrid oblige you to have an almost heroic game in defence.

“Then when you have the chance to do them damage, you have to take it.

“I want to thank the fans for their support. The strength we feel together allows us to look to the future with excitement.”

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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