Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in Real Madrid's superb 3-1 victory over Barcelona to go through to the Copa del Rey final
4-2 on aggregate
It's over. And a deserved victory from an excellent and clinical Real Madrid. Thanks for all your emails. Sid Lowe's match report will be here in a few minutes and the comments open. Thanks again and good night.
90 min+2: Some will blame the referee (they shouldn't). Maarten Kranendonk knows the real culprit: " I would like to note for the record here, all was well in Barça land right until Shakira strolled along Nou Camp."
90 min: Barça corner conceded by Varane after Villa's neat back-heel, played short and lost. "The actors guild: Pepe v Busquets, " wriotes Paul Longden. They are both shameless with their theatrics it's transcended bile bordering on admiration."
Made a run into the box down the left where he was found by a beautiful reverse chipped pass from Iniesta and the left-back firmly slotted his shot into the goal.
88 min: Pique does have a chance but can't finish. They've just not been anywhere near top form tonight but you have to give Real Madrid credit for that.
85 min: You can hear the PA announcements loud and clear. It's the sound of hope long since abandoned. Oh dear. I'm a Barça hater now, apparently. Here's Simon Bancroft-Rimmer: "Can I just congratulate Bob Jones for his damp eyed glory hunter condemnation of your misspelling of Barcelona? Well done Bob, you are a inspiration for all frustrated fans of tiki taka around the world."
83 min: Ronaldo breaks up the right, shoots across goal and Pinto saves, knocking it behind. Callejon takes the corner and when it breaks down the substitute Pepe and Busquets tangle, the former toppling to the floor after the referee blew his whistle.
81 min: It's all gone very quiet on and off the pitch. Alex Gulliver says: "Barcelona aren't even good enough to tiki a taka tonight, Madrid have been quite frankly outstanding to muffle them in the way they have. It just goes to show, if they're not allowed to pass the ball constantly they're toothless in both defence and attack, playing the formation they do. It lays to rest the 'my grandmother could manage Barcelona' theory, because Mourinho has outclassed an inexperienced manager both tactically and mentally. He definitely watched the Milan game with intensity." I agree they have been outstanding tonight and Barça oddly flat. Gerry Armstrong has made a great deal of them missing Tito Vilanova. It looks accurate tonight and at San Siro.
79 min: Tello again makes progress down the left but then, when he plays the ball inside their attacking momentum gets stuck in traffic.
77 min: Tello breaks into the box from the left and curls a shot to the far post, well-saved by Diego Lopez but the Barça sub had been a couple of inches offside.
76 min: A flare is thrown from one tier, the third I think, into the one beneath. Daft sod.
74 min: Thiago tries to scoop a pass over Ramos and Xabi Alonso into the box but can't get the weight right. The Sky pundits keep bemoaning their lack of width and Alba and Alves have not been getting forward at all this last 20 minutes.
72 min: With 18 minutes left and Real Madrid leading 4-1 on aggregate, Barcelona need four goals. Thiago replaces Xavi who has been muted tonight.
69 min:Re Real Madrid's second, Bob Jones writes: "I'm sorry Rob, that was never a WONDERFUL PASS from Khedira. It was an oldschool English style football HOOF from deep inside the own half. Also, how Alonso is not sent off and Barcelona (that you seem to deliberately mis-spell consistantly) awarded a penalty for the clear shove at min 34 is a scandal - Nowhere near the ball, he takes out the player." English hoof can be wonderful, too, no. And deliberately misspell? You've followed me doing this long, have you? Newcsatle fans can bear me out.
And Jose Mourinho does the shushing sign. Corner is curled in towards the penalty spot and Varane, who is having a superb game, leaps unchallenged at shoulder-level to firmly glance the ball high into the net.
63 min: Another Barça appeal for a penalty (the fourth) as Pedro goes down after a miscontrol from Xabi Alonso let the winger dart into the box. Coentrao and he went for the ball and Pedro fell over when they converged. No penalty. Pique is starting to station himself upfield, Busquets dropping back.
61 min: "What made that goal was Ronaldo's control on the chest," says Matt Dony. "How many players would've panicked and thrashed at it first time? Like him or not, in the context of a Clasico, that was pretty damn composed." It was a stunning piece of confidence and technique, when Pinto's save went up in the air he trapped it dead.
59 min: David Villa comes on for Cesc. Huge roar. "A centre-forward? Really? What is this strange creature?"
58 min: They are so devastatingly quick on the break. It's amazing to watch their precision and sheer speed. That's Sara Torvalds 1-0 Brother Torvalds.
Lightning break by Di Maria after a wonderful pass from Khedira. The shot was blocked by Pinto and Ronaldo steered in the rebound from five yards.
55 min:Real corner, their second, is easily cleared by Barcelona and though Coentrao plays it back towards the penalty area, Ozil is ruled to have fouled Busquets. Ozil laughs at the referee's interpretation. Sara Torvalds is here. My colleague Steve Busfield would be pulling virtual drinks for the MBM regulars: "My brother Leo is at Camp Nou watching the game and I'm torn between wanting him to have the perfect night and seeing Messi score and my own support for Ronaldo. So can I just have a shout-out for my brother instead of taking sides?"
53 min: Sod the style guide I'm just going to type Cesc from now on instead of Fabregas. Aagh I just did it again. Anyway, he chipped the ball to Messi who laid it off to Iniesta but he was crowded out and fell to the ground.
51 min: Real Madrid are by far the better team so far but Barça keep working the ball to the edge of their box, Pedro finally getting to the byline and cutting it back to Busquets whose shot hit Khedira and was heading for the top corner until Lopez dived to palm it away.
48 min: Much quieter start in terms of crowd noise and Di Maria silences them further by whipping the ball off Iniesta's toe in the left-back position before setting off on a mazy, 60-yard run. Barça win it back but almost immediately give it away and Alonso latches on to the ball, spots Coentrao cutting in from the left-flank into the box and pings a glorious pass straight to his feet. The left-back takes two steps and shoots across goal, Pinto getting down low to gather.
46 min:"Doesn't it seem like Messi isn't taking on defenders like he used to?" asks Colin Wan. "Maybe he'll get more space if Villa comes on up front." He could, Colin, but I do think he should just let fly with a shot more than he did in the first half. And just as I wrote that Messi goes rampaging up the left and beats two men but Varane stays calm and with him all the way, stealing the ball off him with a great flick.
It's the naughty step treatment but they aren't clicking their heels, they are tapping the ball between them while looking very annoyed indeed.
"Tell MacMahon to just give up on the budgie and accept it," counsels Robin Hazlehurst. "These things can't be silenced - Sylvester spent an entire career trying and never succeeded. And he was a very clever cat." Was he that clever, Robin?
I do like this from Harry Tuttle: "Trying to come up with a metaphor for Luka Modric I asked my housemates: 'What's something we buy but never use?' The answer I got was toothpaste."
And Real Madrid lead 2-1 on aggregate. Before we get to the dos and don'ts of budgie rearing, here's Ryan Dunne with not a GGR in sight: "Hawrite other Rob! Mad props for that intro, I'm a big fan of papal vestments (you cannae beat the Falda or Sub-cinctorium)." Me, too, Ryan. We could meet and talk for hours of paschal mozzetta. T"alk of what rival, Rola Cola to your Real Thing, supposed-MBMs are choosing to cover has got me wondering why nobody thought to copyright the MBM format when it was invented all those years ago. You'd all be millionaires by now!" Scott Murray would be, Ryan, and living in a platinum house. What a business. "MBMs surely are the sort of thing Google or Facebook or the like would be interested in buying in a bajillion pound deal. I'd personally like to hear the (surely superhero origin style!) story of how MBMs were invented." That's Scott's story to tell. In the beginning was the R1 editing tool …
"You do realise that by not MBMing the Everton match the Guardian will have attracted the ire of Agent Naylor?" writes Phil Sawyer AKA Swayer. "You haven't experienced any deja vu in the last thirty minutes or so, have you? Black cats walking past the door twice, that kind of thing? If so, duck behind your desk and run like the wind, Rob. He's coming for you. He's already taken out the reception desk …" I can hear the great theatrical tunes getting louder, Phil.
"Rob, good evening," writes Nicholas. "What's this obsession with tearing down Benítez? Of all the managers in the game today, his record stands alongside all except Ferguson, Mourinho and Heynckes. And as for Alonso, he's never been as good for Real as he was under Benitez. Fact!" There is no obsession with tearing down Benítez, Nicholas. I just thought it was odd to want Gareth Barry when he could have kept Xabi Alonso. And then there's Alberto Aquilani … But I'm happy to acknowledge Benítez's achievements with Valencia and Liverpool.
45 min: There's a minute of stoppage time to be played and Ronaldo opens a route up the right with a shimmy and a pass but Ozil makes a mess of it. Then Jordi Alba writhes on the floor after clanging at best, knees. Brushing knee caps floors him.
42 min: Real free-kick, curled into the box from their right and beyond the far post eludes the lunge of Higuain by inches. Up the other end after Arbeola stops Alba's attack up by conceding a corner, Pique is penalised again for blocking, this time Varane.
39 min: An optical illusion for those watching from the sides made them celebtate Messi "scoring" from the free-kick when his crisp shot went under the wall, but went wide of the left post and then rebounded into the side netting. "Now, I like Joe Allen; he seems like a nice lad, he's from 20 miles down the road from me, he can knock a ball around attractively enough," says Matt Dony. "BUT, every time the ball is at Xabi Alonso's feet, I ache inside." He wanted Gareth Barry, Matt, to replace Xabi Alonso. Gareth Barry.
38 min: Arbeola is booked for a sliding tackle on Iniesta as he ran across the box. Barça free-kick just on the edge of the D.
36 min: This is a fantastically incident-packed game. Pedro plays a wonderful pass to Messi centrally who has Fabregas advancing into the box from the left side of the field but Varane stood up and managed to get enough of a diversion on the ball to knock it past Fabregas.
35 min: Barça are frustrated in their latest penalty appeal, Pedro cutting inside and going down after he'd pushed the ball past Xabi Alonso and colliding with the Real Madrid No14.
33 min: Good build-up play from Barcelona with Pique pushing the ball through the middle and Messi turning to play in Dani Alves who was free and beyond Coentrao but his cross was blocked.
31 min: Ozil now has a strop while lying on the floor, claiming that Pique fouled him 30 yards from goal but it looked as though the centre-back whipped the ball away without kicking the shin Ozil was clutching. When they get the ball in Barça's half Real push four men right up against the Barça back four which forces them to retreat. Barça wasted a decent chance a minute earlier with an air shot from, I think, Fabregas as the ball skittled across the box.
28 min: Iniesta, now, cuts in from the right and looks to get a move on so instead of laying it back to Xavi he cvuts past Arbeloa and smashes a shot that needed to curl to trouble Diego Lopez but stayed true and flee out for a goalkick.
26 min: Dani Alves pulls off another last-gap and brilliantly executed tackle to stop Ronaldo powering through on goal. What a player the full-back is.
24 min: Again Real Madrid fly out of the traps on the break and only Higuain picking the wrong option and overhitting his pass when Khedira was free stopped their momentum.
22 min: So plentiful are the emails on budgies that I may have to save them for half-time. I'll try and find a Percy Edwards clip to go with it. Meanwhile … Fabregas is fouled by Khedira, clipped from behind just inside the Real Madrid half but the free-kick, tapped to the left, is ushered out of play for a Real throw.
20 min: That's a zingy euphemism from Gerry "Arconada" Armstrong. Di Maria and Busquets have "low pain thresholds". Again Ronaldo has the ball as he makes a forward dart out of the centre-circle, advances a few steps then hits a left-foot shot but gets too far underneath the ball and sends it flying far too high.
18 min: Free-kick 10-yards inside the Barcelona half, spooned over the bar.
16 min: Barcelona, for once, don't look very assured at all. I think, as Gerry Armstrong said, you could accuse Fabregas of a shameless dive there. Paranoia about the referee creeping in? Robert Brodie and Neal Butler suggest covering the budgie. Or cuttlefish.
14 min: Fabregas goes down in the box and the whistles start when the referee doesn't award a penalty. And he shouldn't, he just fell over, perhaps anticipating a foul.
13 min: Ronaldo's run was set up by a glorious pass on halfway and on the turn by Higuain.
Sent the keeper the wrong way – Pinto dived left, Ronaldo rolled it into the right corner.
Ronaldo brought down by Pique after he cut into the box frrom the right. He took his legs from him with a sliding tackle. Clear penalty.
9 min: Ronaldo goes storming down the middle and Dani Alves makes a wonderful sliding tackle, diligently tracking him from the right as he broke between Pique and Puyol. As the ball was knocked back up the park Iniesta was clattered hard. If I haven't mentioned it elsewhere – I'm not very good at this sorry – the aggregate score is 1-1.
8 min: Jordi Alba's speed allows him to close down Di Maria as the probing continues from both sides. "You ever had a budgie, Rob?" writes Simon McMahon. "oisy little buggers. Driving me mad. Anyone have any tips on how to get them to shut up during the fitba?" Find a coal mine?
6 min: Pinto has to scramble across goal from a Real Madrid free-kick from about 40 yards out but the ball goes out of play before he has to touch it.
4 min: Pedro is causing problems down the right hand side and wins a free-kick when upended. The cross from the set-piece is arrowed to the middle of the box where Pique is penalised for a shove.
2 min: Excellent, jinking run from Pedro on the right and a neat cut back to Messi advancing towards the six-yard box on the right of the penalty area and he controls it beautifully and spanks a shot wide of López's right post.
1 min: Barcelona kick off and play it around their own half, back to Pique who chips a 30-yard pass to Iniesta out on the left who takes two touches forward and hits a tameish shot from 35-yarsd wide of Diego López's right post.
Michael McGovern has been enjoying the 1996-97 meeting: "What a joy it is to see new footage of Il Fenomeno (it still doesn't feel appropriate calling him the 'old' Ronaldo) in his early pomp. He had a touch of the Messis about him then, didn't he? The outrageously quick feet; the seeming ability to think five steps ahead of his opponents; the anticipation that every shot, from whatever angle or distance, will inevitably fly into the bottom corner." He was unstoppable that season. To see him in full flight, dribbling the ball, his tongue half out like a small child concentrating while colouring in, was one of the great sights in football history. Mesmerisingly powerful, such a shame that he is not celebrated more.
A kind word from Mark Hammond: "Whatever ensues in the game, my day is complete with your underhand inclusion of the Costello lyric." Thanks Mark. That couplet has been much in my mind in recent weeks. I'm trying to be more sanguine about everything.
"I see on The Telegraph website they are MBM-ing Oldham v Everton and you are not. Does this mark the Guardian out as a bunch of glory hunters, did you toss a coin with them for it?" asks Chris Brock. Frankly, I don't know the workings of editorial policy, perhaps we did stone, paper, scissors it with the Victoria lot. Knocked off their school caps. I shall steal a line from Sir Humphrey Appleby: "It is not for a humble mortal such as I to speculate on the complex and elevated deliberations of the mighty."
You'll have heard that the referee Alberto Undiano is far from popular with Barça's caretaker head coach, Jordi Roura. Here's what Roura actually said yesterday: "With Undiano our numbers are worse than with others and the only league match we have lost [this season] was with him. We have in our memory the permissiveness he had in the Copa del Rey match against Real Madrid [2011's final]. The best thing that can happen is for him to go unnoticed."
That prompted José Mourinho to trounce Jack Dee in the straight-faced sarcasm stakes: "I prefer to focus on the lessons we have been given in the past by Barcelona. Lessons in sporting behaviour, not pressuring the referee nor surrounding him, not simulating cards for the rivals and obviously, playing football, as they are a really good team."
Barcelona (4-3-3): Pinto; Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Iniesta.
Substitutes: Valdes, Mascherano, Adriano, Song, Thiago, Villa, Tello.
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Diego López; Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Coentrao; Xabi Alonso, Khedira; Di María, Ozil, Ronaldo; Higuaín.
Substitutes: Adán, Pepe, Kaká, Benzema, Essien, Modric, Callejón.
Pepe was in the starting XI released at 7.20pm then RM TV announced that Arbeloa was playing instead at 7.30pm.
I'll be back with the team news as soon as we get it. In other news … or "meanwhile" as journalists write when segueing off the subject Barça have issued this denial of El Confidencial's story that Pep Guardiola instructed a private dick agency to ascertain what Gerard Piqué was up to in the early days of his squiring of Shakira: "The club does not wish to comment because it has no documentary evidence this ever happened and as a result we deny it." And finally, meanwhile and moreover, the Vatican has announced that the pontiff on retirement will keep the honorific His Holiness and wear a white cassock – but he will no longer be permitted to wear his red shoes. No red shoes? I used to be disgusted now I try to be amused. The hard-nosed gets.
Oh, and if Lionel Messi scores today he will join Alfredo Di Stefano on 18 goals to share the record for Clasicos. Two and he'll have it on his own.
Incidentally my favourite ever below the line comment was posted beneath a fine piece by David Lacey on Di Stefano's last goal in the 1960 European Cup final at Hampden. "Di Stetano not last more than half an hour at the pace the modern game, let alone to cope with the defensive demands," the contributor wrote. "No more museum names please. We don't care - and they couldn't cope." Perfectly executed parody of the first rank … I hope.
Buenas tardes/ bona tarda/ ayup etc. And with those formalities out of the way we are now less than an hour away from kick-off for the fifth Clásico of the season with one more to come at the weekend. @barcastuff has been counting the hours off all day. Those of you thinking this is only the cup, the semi-final of the Campeonato de España – Copa de Su Majestad el Rey (a cup with a dash, that's class), and as such is not in the dramatic history of this fixture all that significant, go and stand in the corner right now. Face the wall. Didn't you see the first leg? It was a fantastically entertaining match. Barcelona played with such rhythm and fluidity, their passing at its very best, and yet Real Madrid broke with such pace and menace that they were a constant threat. There were some wonderful tackles too.
As a warm-up treat here are two previous games between them in this competition, a famous victory apiece. Only one of them, though, has Flamenco Rumba Pop intruding on more than half of the clip. And as for the Barça victory in 1996-97 under Bobby Robson, there's a spectacular Fernando Hierro free-kick that put Madrid 2-1 ahead. He, as Glenn Hoddle once famously said, absolutely twatted it.