Real Madrid advance, Barcelona struggle in Copa del Rey

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Madrid, Dec 1 (IANS) Real Madrid cruised into the round of 16 of Spain’s Copa del Rey football tournament, wrapping up a 13-2 victory on aggregate over third-division club Cultural Leonesa with an easy 6-1 second-leg win.

FC Barcelona, however, stumbled to a 1-1 draw against another third-division side, Hercules. Both matches were played on Wednesday night.

With Real Madrid having won the first leg by a tally of 7-1, head coach Zinedine Zidane rested several of his best players – including Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Keylor Navas, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric – ahead of Saturday’s “El Clasico” derby match against Barcelona.

Madrid opened the scoring in the first minute of the contest at their Santiago Bernabeu stadium, with Dominican striker Mariano taking advantage of a blatant error by an opposing defender to score on a cross by Marco Asensio.

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Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez doubled that advantage in the 24th minute when he converted a pass from Dani Carvajal, while Mariano put the ball in the back of the net in the 42nd minute to make the score 3-0.

Leonesa pulled one back just before the intermission on a goal by Yeray Gonzalez, but that only made the aggregate score 10-2.

Three more second half goals – one each by Enzo, son of coach Zidane, and Mariano (who completed a hat trick) and an own goal by Leonesa’s Cesar Morgado – put the icing on the victory.

“I’m happy about his three goals and the job he’s done. It’s a very nice night for everyone,” Zidane said of Mariano before looking ahead to Saturday’s showdown at the Camp Nou stdium against their arch-rivals.

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“Now we need to rest because the next game comes quickly.”

In Copa del Rey’s first-leg round of 32 action on Wednesday, Atletico Madrid got off to a strong start, routing third-division club Guijuelo 6-0 in Salamanca.

But Barcelona had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Hercules in Alicante.



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