Real Madrid just failed to
complete an epic aggregate victory over Real Zaragoza despite a storming 4-0 win
in the return leg of their King's Cup semifinal on Tuesday.
Real, who were crushed 6-1 in last week's first leg, gave Zaragoza a massive
scare as they raced into a 3-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes at the Bernabeu.
Brazilian trio Cicinho, Robinho and Ronaldo were on target and compatriot
Roberto Carlos, made it 4-0 just after the hour.
His trademark rocket shot set up a grandstand finish and Zaragoza looked as
though they were about to fold as they struggled to stem the tide of Real
But despite a nerve-riddled performance in the final half hour the visitors
managed to hang on to their narrow lead and claim a 6-5 aggregate victory that
earned them a place in their third Cup final in six seasons.
Real, who have not won a major trophy since June 2003, had made set their sights
on winning the Cup this season, but in the end fell just short of achieving
Some 70,000 fans had been drawn to the Bernabeu by talk of a Real Madrid
comeback and they were brought to their feet inside the first minute when
Brazilian fullback Cicinho fired a thundering 25-metre drive into the back of
the net to put them 1-0 up.
The fans were still celebrating when Real snatched a second, this time Robinho
steered home at the far post after Ronaldo had clipped the ball across the area
from the right.
And they were in a state of near delirium in the 10th minute when Ronaldo made
it 3-0 as he stabbed the ball into the net from 10 metres out after David
Beckham had swept in an inch-perfect cross from the right.
Zaragoza were stunned by Real's whirlwind start and nerves appeared to get the
better of them as they made a series of errors in midfield and looked
uncharacteristically shaky in defence.
They did manage one dangerous attack when Cani wafted a cross into the area, but
Real keeper Iker Casillas produced a brilliant reflex save to turn Ewerthon's
point-blank header over the bar.
Opposite number Cesar, Casillas's former stand-in at Real, made an equalling
good save to stop Real going 4-0 up when he blocked a close-range effort from
Zinedine Zidane midway through the half.
Real kept up the breathless pace for the remainder of the half, but Zaragoza
managed to keep them at bay until the break.
A nervous Zaragoza looked even more edgy when they stepped out for the second
half and limited themselves to kicking the ball out of play as they were unable
to stem the tide of Real Madrid attacks.
They conceded a fourth just after the hour courtesy of yet another of their
Brazilian players, this time Roberto Carlos send a trademark rocket shot fizzing
into the back of the net following a free-kick routine.
Zaragoza looked as though they would cave in completely as they were pinned back
in their area by wave after wave of Real attacks.
Zidane almost snatched the crucial fifth when he got his foot to a swirling
Beckham cross, but his shot squirmed onto the bar and Zaragoza hung on to claim
their place in the final.