Gareth Bale scored the most defining goal of his Real Madrid career – a late match-winner versus rivals Barcelona to win the 2014 Copa del Rey.
It was a brilliant individual effort by the Welsh forward, who joined Madrid from Tottenham Hotspurs last summer after a world record $132 million transfer fee. With four minutes remaining, Bale took the ball from his own half on the counterattack, powered past Barcelona’s Marca Bartra along the sidelines, ran towards goal, and squeezed the ball past goalkeeper Juan Manuel Pinto.
Despite playing without Cristiano Ronaldo for the third el Clasico of the season, Madrid looked the better side early on in the match and was deservedly ahead when Angel di Maria beat Barcelona’s offside trap and slotted home the pass from Karim Benzema to give Los Blancos the lead.
Real Madrid did not let up, with both Bale and Benzema coming close to extending the lead. Barcelona struggled to get any sort of footing in the opening half. They had very few goal-scoring opportunities and Lionel Messi looked somewhat subdued – a theme that has become common the past few weeks. Madrid carried their momentum into the second half. They looked prime for a second goal, with both Bale and Benzema again missing on early opportunities.
Then, just like that, Barcelona grabbed the equaliser when Batra – unmarked in the box – headed a corner past Iker Casillas and into the far corner. It was the first goal Madrid had conceded in the entire tournament.
Madrid came close to retaking the lead in the 80th minute, with Lukas Modric’s low shot from distance clipping the post. Six minutes later, Bale came through with the winning goal.
Barcelona had one last opportunity to equalise with a minute remaining but Neymar’s strike would end up hitting the post.