Friday, March 6, 2015

6 March 2002 - Real Madrid's Unwanted Birthday Present

On 6 March 2002, Real Madrid celebrated their 100th birthday with a loss to Deportivo de La Coruña in the Copa del Rey Final.

With Real Madrid's 100th anniversary falling on 6 March 2002, club president Florentino Pérez arranged to mark the date by hosting the Copa del Rey Final on that day. He further instructed manager Vicente Del Bosque to place a higher priority on the cup, which Madrid had not won since 1993. The previous season, they had been eliminated in the Round of 64 by third-division side Toledo.

But Deportivo, who had won La Liga in 2000 and finished second to Real Madrid in 2001, had no intention of letting the hosts claim the cup as birthday present. They swarmed around the ball in the first half with an energy and determination that quickly caught Madrid off-guard. In just the 6th minute, midfielder Sergio González (pictured) fired Deportivo ahead from close range after beating Madrid captain Fernando Hierro and right back Míchel Salgado to slip the ball through the legs of keeper César. Just over half an hour later, striker Diego Tristán doubled the lead with another close-range shot.

Madrid closed the gap to one with a goal from Raúl Gonzalez, but they would get no closer. The match ended 1-2 to Deportivo, giving them only the second Copa del Rey in club history.

Real Madrid got some consolation a little over two months later when they won their ninth European Cup/Champions League trophy, beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 in Glasgow.

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