MADRID, Spain, April 21 – Real Madrid bathed in the adulation of joyous fans after edging arch rivals Barcelona 1-0 in extra time to snatch the King's Cup for the first time since 1993.
Tens of thousands of fans danced and sang in a drunken, music-charged night in central Madrid’s Cibeles Square and newspapers heaped praise on the players, singling out Cristiano Ronaldo and Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho.
A powerful header from Ronaldo in extra time sealed the win, delivering Real’s first domestic cup in 18 years and coach Jose Mourinho’s first trophy since joining the club last May.
The victors flew directly to Madrid and were ferried in an open-top bus to a raucous welcome in Cibeles at about 4.30 a.m. (0230 GMT) with thumping music, and lights shining on the team logo on the city hall.
But just before entering the square, defender Sergio Ramos let the 15-kilo (33-pound) sliver trophy slip from his hands. It fell under the team bus, which ran over it and reportedly broke it into at least 10 pieces.
"It fell, it fell, it’s fine, it’s fine," Ramos told reporters when asked about the slip. But the Cup, Spain’s most treasured domestic football trophy, was not shown again.
"Champions!" blared the front page of the Real Madrid-leaning sports daily Marca, splashing photos of the triumphant team holding the Cup and players throwing Mourinho into the air.
"Cristiano changes history," said the paper.
"A fantastic header by Ronaldo in extra time ends a no-holds-barred, almost ferocious final."
Rival sports daily AS declared it "a triumph of strength and faith."
The biggest daily, El Pais, said Ronaldo and Mourinho’s team had been crowned after a "colossal duel."
Most papers agreed Real Madrid had the better first half, Barcelona came back in the second but Ronaldo finished it all off.
"Epic Real Madrid," headlined the daily El Mundo.
Last weekend Real ended a run of five straight defeats against Barca with a 1-1 draw in the league but at the Mestalla Stadium they went one better with their first trophy since 2008.
There still remain two more mouth-watering matches between the rivals in the Champions League semi-finals on April 27 and May 3.
Catalan daily Sport showed a picture of the defeated Barcelona under a headline: "Now to get even in the Champions".
"It was not to be. Barca were left without the Cup but, as the saying goes, destiny always offers a second chance. Pep Guardiola’s team will have a chance to compensate for their setback in the Mestalla in the next two weeks in the Champions League.