Real Madrid 3-1 Atletico Madrid (aet): Superb Rodrygo goal sparks Copa del Rey turnaround
Real Madrid needed extra-time to seal a dramatic Copa del Rey comeback as they downed rivals Atletico Madrid with a 3-1 quarter-final victory on Thursday.
Los Blancos were heading out at the Santiago Bernabeu after their former striker Alvaro Morata had struck in the first half for Atletico.
But Rodrygo’s fantastic solo effort forced an extra half-hour in the Spanish capital, before Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior completed the turnaround for the hosts.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side join Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna in the semi-finals, but Diego Simeone’s visitors will rue missing out on the last four.
Despite an early command of the game, it was the hosts who went behind in the 19th minute when Morata tapped in Nahuel Molina’s square ball from close-range.
Madrid blew a big chance to level matters on the half-hour mark when Eder Militao was caught off-guard by a free-kick delivery and botched a simple header.
Matters went from bad to worse for Ancelotti’s side too after they were forced into a substitution before the break thanks to an injury to Ferland Mendy.
Los Blancos were forced to wait for much of the game to find their response, but their patience paid off in the 79th minute when Rodrygo skipped past four Atletico players before prodding past Jan Oblak at his near post.
Tempers started to fray between both rivals in extra-time, with Stefan Savic dismissed in the 99th minute after two yellow cards in quick succession.
Gifted a man advantage, Madrid seized the chance with Benzema able to guide Vinicius’ rushed effort in past Oblak, before the Brazilian signed off the game with a finish of his own, tucked away after a fine run in off the left wing.
What does it mean? Madrid rally with response
Edged for composure and nous in the first half, Los Blancos looked more energetic than assured after the interval, before Rodrygo managed to bring them back in.
But following Supercopa de Espana heartbreak against Barcelona earlier this month, Ancelotti will be delighted to see his side prove they can still thrive in the pressure situations.
Vinicius offers defiant response
Much of the build-up to Thursday’s match was dominated by the Brazilian after clubs strongly condemned the actions of individuals who hung an effigy of the winger from a bridge.
Though a little nervous throughout the game, he earned his reward right at the end, and drew the biggest roar of the night.
Passive performance pushes Atletico out
Having taken a lead into the half-time break, it was always likely Simeone’s side would sit back and attempt to frustrate their rivals following the interval.
With only 30 per cent of possession in the second 45 however, they allowed themselves to be pushed off the park in the end, and paid the price in extra-time.
Key Opta facts
– Diego Simeone has faced Real Madrid for the sixth time as Atletico boss in a cup game, all of which have gone to extra-time (also Copa del Rey 2013, Champions League 2014 and 2016, UEFA Super Cup 2018 and Supercopa de Espana 2020).
– Molina’s assist for Morata meant he has provided one in his last three games, having not registered one in any of his first 21 games for Atletico in all competitions.
– Savic has been sent off in two of his last three games, as many as in his previous 137 games in all competitions for his club.
– 12 out of 27 goals Rodrygo has scored for Madrid have been in the last 20 minutes of games (44.4 per cent). The Brazilian has scored nine goals this season, equalling his highest tally in a single campaign for Los Blancos (2021-22).
– 17 out of the 37 assists from Vinicius for Madrid have been for Karim Benzema (46 per cent). Only Cristiano Ronaldo (27), Gareth Bale and Luka Modric (18 each) have provided more assists to Benzema than the Brazilian.
Both teams are in LaLiga action on Sunday, with Real Madrid hosting Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid visiting Osasuna.
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