Abidal grabs Cup win for Barcelona
MADRID - ReutersEric Abidal netted a rare but superbly-taken goal to give Barcelona a 2-1 comeback win at holder Real Madrid in a King’s Cup quarterfinal first leg on Jan. 18 as Pep Guardiola’s side tightened its stranglehold over their rivals.
The France fullback, who extended his contract with the Spanish and European champion earlier this week, galloped on to a floated Lionel Messi pass 13 minutes from time and calmly slotted past Iker Casillas to give the 2011 runners-up the advantage for next week’s second leg in Barcelona.
Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo had put the home side ahead with a breakaway goal in the 11th minute before Barça captain Carles Puyol flung himself at Xavi’s corner to power a header past Spain teammate Casillas for a 49th-minute equalizer.
“We won this game but we have to be careful in the return match because that’s going to be another tough test,” Abidal, whose goal was only the fourth of his career, said in a television interview.
“I seem to be a Cup player,” the 32-year-old former Olympique Lyon player added. “I scored in the Cup back in France and I seem to be doing it again in Spain.”
There were a few ugly challenges late in the game. Pepe, who had earlier been booked, was lucky to stay on the pitch in the second half after television replays showed he deliberately stamped on Messi’s hand when the star was on the ground.