Real Madrid reached the last 16 of the Copa del Rey with a comfortable 2-0 win over Olimpic Xativa at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Without the injured Gareth Bale and suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, Real manager Carlo Ancelotti gave a number of his younger players another chance to impress despite being held to an embarrassing 0-0 draw in the first leg 10 days ago.
The Italian was rewarded when Asier Illaramendi slotted home his first goal for the club, before Angel di Maria’s penalty made it 2-0 at the break.
Madrid failed to add to their tally in the second half, but were never threatened by their third-tier opponents as they eased into the next round of the tournament, where they are to face CA Osasuna.
“I think we started the game well, but we slowed down when we were 2-0 up. Our rhythm dropped too much in the second half and I didn’t like it,” Ancelotti said.
The former Chelsea boss added that the likes of Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata need to make the most of their opportunities in the absence of Ronaldo and Bale.
“It wasn’t easy to prepare for the game because we changed the team a lot. Some players that haven’t played a lot need more minutes to reach optimal condition,” Ancelotti said. “In general, the young players need to work because playing for Real Madrid is not easy. They need to be ready because this season we will need everyone, they need to be concentrated so that when the opportunity arrives, they take it.”
Elsewhere on the night, Atletico Madrid were forced to come from behind to beat minnows Sant Andreu 2-1 on the night at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, to progress into the last 16 by 6-1 on aggregate.
Alberto Carroza fired the visitors into a shock lead as Atletico conceded a goal at home for the first time since early October.
Atletico then passed up a host of chances to level before the break, with Jose Gimenez having a goal harshly ruled offside and Adrian Lopez blasting a penalty over the bar.
With such an advantage from the first leg, Atletico coach Diego Simeone had handed a night off to the majority of his first-team regulars and had to turn to 18-year-old Hector Hernandez in his search for an equalizer.
The young forward duly delivered when he turned home Adrian’s cross 12 minutes from time.
Sant Andreu looked like they may still hold out for a famous draw, but they were cruelly denied with the last action of the game as Toby Alderweireld headed home Gabi’s free-kick deep into stoppage-time.
Atletico are now to face Valencia or Gimnastic in the next round.
Racing Santander produced the surprise of the evening as they overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit with a 2-0 win away to 10-man Sevilla.
David Miguelez pulled the visitors level in the tie from the penalty spot after Stephane M’bia had been sent off for hauling down Mariano Sainz inside the area.
Mahamadou Kone then sealed the comeback in stoppage-time when he fired home from close range.
Real Sociedad set up a meeting with Villarreal in the last 16 with a convincing 4-0 win over Algeciras, thanks to goals from Javi Ros, Haris Seferovic, Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela, to seal a 5-1 aggregate victory.
La Liga sides UD Almeria and Real Betis Balompie also progressed despite being held at home on the night by lower league Las Palmas and Lleida respectively.