Barcelona survived a late comeback from holders Real Madrid to knock them out of the Spanish Cup with a 4-3 victory on aggregate after a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp where the visitors put up a spirited fightback to come from two goals down.
Jose Mourinho may still not have won away to Barcelona in nine attempts as a coach, whether at Real or any of his other clubs, but his team's performance was a perfect answer to the critics who have blasted their recent poor displays against their arch rivals.
Barcelona's Xavi. Pic/AFP.
First-half goals by Pedro and Dani Alves looked to have put the game beyond the reach of Real before they fought back to level on the night with goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, but in the end came up short and had defender Sergi Ramos sent-off late on.
"The players worked hard and I would like to congratulate them for their performance," said Barca coach Pep Guardiola.
"Madrid are a great team and for that reason our victory has more merit. Madrid played well but over the 180 minutes we were the deserved winners. "I wouldn't say that this was our toughest game. I remember the match in my first season away to Sevilla when we were 3-0 up and they pulled it back to 3-2 and if we drew we would lose the league.
"Madrid are a very strong side but I wouldn't necessarily say this team is stronger than the one we faced last season for example in the Champions League (semi-finals which Barca won)." Mourinho had little to say after the game but was disappointed by his side's poor finishing.
"There wasn't very much to talk to the players about at half time because there was little to change. When the team plays well then you have nothing to say, and I could have spoken for just one minute," said Mourinho, who it has been reported in the media has indicated he wants to leave at the end of the season.