Real Madrid looked to be heading out of the Copa del Rey at an early stage once more until their substitutes’ rescue act at Elche.
Eden Hazard was Real Madrid’s unlikely Copa del Rey matchwinner as the 10-man LaLiga leaders rallied to a 2-1 win at Elche in extra time.
Madrid have lifted the Copa only twice this century and looked highly unlikely to improve that record when Marcelo was sent off and Gonzalo Verdu capitalized from the subsequent free-kick in the 103rd minute.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men had been awful to that point but staged a stunning recovery courtesy of goals from two substitutes.
Isco levelled with 12 minutes to play, teeing up Hazard – much maligned at the Santiago Bernabeu – to race away and net a decisive second, stunning poor Elche, who were contentiously denied their equalizer and then had Pere Milla dismissed.
ELCHE (4-4-2): Axel Werner;
Helibelton Palacios,John Donald, Diego Gonzalez, Johan Mojica;
Josan,Raul Guti, Gerard Gumbau, Fidel;
Lucas Perez, Guido Carillo.
SUBS: Gonzalo Verdu, Jose Luis Friaza, Tete Morente,
Edgar Badia, Diego Bri, Lluis Andreu,
Pere Milla, Carles Marco.
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Andriy Lunin;
Lucas Vazquez, Nacho, David Alaba, Marcelo;
Eduardo Camavinga, Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde;
Vinicius Junior, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo.
SUBS: Casemiro, Gareth Bale, Ferland Mendy, Eden Hazard,
Dani Ceballos, Isco, Luka Modric, Diego Pineiro,
Toni Fuidias, Gila Fuentes.
1-0. Elche takes the lead. Marcelo’s red card results in a free kick for the hosts on the edge of the box. Verdu steps up and hits the initial set-piece into the wall, before slamming the rebound into a crowd of bodies where it deflects off Ceballos to wrong-foot Lunin and roll into the bottom corner.
1-1. Madrid equalize with 10 men! Casemiro drives to the byline and cuts it back to Ceballos. The attacker drills an effort at goal that flicks off Isco before rolling past a helpless Werner.
1-2. Madrid has turned it around! Alaba releases Hazard with a superb curling pass down the line and Werner rushes out of his goal. Hazard calmly rounds the goalkeeper on the edge of the box, before slotting a precise finish into the net from a tight angle from outside the box.
Key Opta facts
– Real Madrid have reached the quarter-finals of
the Copa del Rey for the fifth time in the last six
seasons, failing only last season (eliminated in
the third round by Alcoyano).
– Isco has scored his first Copa del Rey goal for
Real Madrid since December 2018 against
Melilla, when he scored two goals.
– Luka Jovic has not scored in any of his 13
starts for Real Madrid in all competitions. Against
Elche, he did not manage any shots, something
that has already happened to him in four games
as a starter.
What’s next for Real Madrid and Elche?
These two do battle again back at the Bernabeu in LaLiga on Sunday, giving Elche little time to lift themselves for a testing fixture.
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