Thu, Nov 30, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Bale leads Real into next round of Copa del Rey


Gareth Bale needed only a few minutes on Tuesday to help Real Madrid secure a spot in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.

Bale came off the bench after a long injury layoff to set up two goals and help Madrid’s reserves secure a 2-2 draw against third-division Fuenlabrada at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid, who were without Cristiano Ronaldo and many other regular starters, advanced 4-2 on aggregate after having won the first leg 2-0 last month.

“What was important was to advance to the next round, and we did,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said.

The hosts struggled early and Fuenlabrada had most of the opportunities, opening the scoring with a long-range strike by Luis Milla in the 25th minute that Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas should probably have stopped.

Navas appeared slow to react and, despite getting his hand to the shot, the ball hit the crossbar and ricocheted off his body before crossing the goal-line. It was not clear whether the shot was deflected by a defender before going in.

“There were a lot of players in front of the goal,” Milla said. “Now I can tell everyone that I’ve scored a goal at the Bernabeu.”

Navas was also returning from injury and had not played in more than a month, since a 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.

Madrid got back on track only after Bale, who had not played in more than two months because of muscle injuries, entered the match in the 62nd minute.

In one of his first touches, the Wales forward provided a well-placed cross with the outside of his foot for Borja Mayoral to score with a header. Mayoral scored again eight minutes later, pouncing on the rebound after a shot by Bale from inside the area.

Bale had a goal disallowed for offside not long after Madrid’s second goal.

“Bale showed his class, he showed he can make a difference,” Milla said.

Fuenlabrada, a tiny club from south of Madrid, netted their second goal in the final minutes with a shot by Alvaro Portilla, delighting their nearly 2,500 fans at the less-than-packed Bernabeu.

“It wasn’t our best match, but in the end we reached our goal,” Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez said.

Malaga became the first top-flight club to be eliminated when they were held by second-division club Deportivo Numancia to a 1-1 draw at home. Numancia had won the first leg 2-1.

It is the third straight season Malaga have been eliminated in the Copa del Rey’s round-of-32.

CD Leganes advanced 3-1 on aggregate by defeating second-division club Real Valladolid 1-0. It is only the second time Leganes have made it to the round-of-16, and the first since 2000.

Forward Iago Aspas converted a 90th-minute penalty to help RC Celta de Vigo defeat Sociedad Deportiva Eibar 1-0 and advance 3-1 on aggregate after a 2-1 win in the first leg.

Levante UD held on to a 1-1 draw against fellow first-division club Girona, moving to the last 16 with a 3-1 aggregate victory.

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