BARCELONA: Barcelona entered the final “clasico” of the season with a chance of earning a fourth straight win against Real Madrid in the same season for the first time.
But when it was all over, it had endured one of its worst ever home losses to its archrival.
With another hat trick by Karim Benzema, Madrid overturned Barcelona's advantage in the Copa del Rey semifinals with a resounding 4-0 win at Camp Nou Stadium to reach the final for the first time in nearly a decade.
Madrid hadn’t beaten Barcelona by four goals at Camp Nou since a 5-1 win in 1963.
Vinícius Júnior also scored as Madrid advanced 4-1 on aggregate after having lost the first leg 1-0 at home. Benzema also had a hat trick in Madrid's 6-0 rout of Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday.
“It’s obvious that after Karim improved, the team improved as well,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “When he is at his best, everything is better for us. And (Luka) Modric and (Toni) Kroos also had great games. In these types of matches, experience makes a difference.”
Madrid will face Osasuna in the May 6 final in Seville. Osasuna eliminated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in extra time on Tuesday in Bilbao, reaching the final for the first time since losing the title match against Real Betis in 2005.
Madrid hadn't made it to the final since 2014, when it beat Barcelona to win the last of its 19 Copa titles.
Barcelona, the tournament's most successful club with 31 titles, was trying to return to the final for the first time since winning it in 2021 for its last triumph with Lionel Messi still in the squad.
With the win, Madrid avoided losing four straight matches to Barcelona in the same season for the first time. Madrid won 3-1 in the first “clasico” of the season in the Spanish league, but since then had lost 3-1 in the Spanish Super Cup final, 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa semifinal and 2-1 in the other league match.
Barcelona coach Xavi was trying to win four “clasicos” in the same season and repeat a feat last achieved when Pep Guardiola won five in a row from 2008-10. Barcelona beat Madrid four times in 1982-83, but not in consecutive matches.
“We deserved more in the first half, but in the second they were much better, there are no excuses,” Xavi said. “It’s a tough loss to take, one by several goals, but we have to start thinking about the Spanish league right away.”
The game was mostly even early on but Madrid was in control after taking the lead just before halftime and could have ended up with an even bigger win had it not squandered some late chances.
Vinícius opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time with a shot from the middle of the box after a a breakaway that also involved Rodrygo and Benzema. The breakaway started after Barcelona squandered a chance at the other end with Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saving a shot by Robert Lewandowski.
Benzema added to the lead in the 50th with a low shot from just inside the area after a pass by Luka Modric, then got his second by converting a penalty in the 58th after Vinícius was fouled by Franck Kessié. His third came in a three-on-two situation following a breakaway in the 81st.
“It was a beautiful result, very satisfying,” Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde said. “It was important to win no matter what, but we played a great match, especially in the second half.”
Madrid trails Barcelona by 12 points in the league but can still win the Champions League in addition to the Copa del Rey. It already won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA’s Club World Cup this season. It faces Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Barcelona won the Spanish Super Cup this season for its first trophy since Messi departed to join Paris Saint-Germain amid the club's financial crisis.
The game at Camp Nou got heated at times with Vinícius and a few Barcelona players getting into minor altercations. The match had to be interrupted a few times as fans threw objects on the field.
In the 10th minute, fans chanted Messi's name as the former Barcelona star goes through a tough moment with PSG.
Xavi was without four players because of injuries — Ousmane Dembélé, Pedri, Frenkie de Jong and Andreas Christensen. Ancelotti had all of his regular starters available with the exception of injured left back Ferland Mendy.