Bale leads Real Madrid into next round of Copa del Rey
MADRID (AP) — Gareth Bale needed only a few minutes to help Real Madrid secure a spot in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on Tuesday.
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 Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid, which was 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 wasn’t clear if 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 hadn’t played in more than a month, since a 1-1 draw against Tottenham in the group stage of the Champions League.
Madrid got back on track only after Bale, who hadn’t 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 its second goal in the final minutes with a shot by Alvaro Portilla, delighting its 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.
In other matches this week, Barcelona defends a 3-0 first-leg win against Murcia, while Atletico Madrid looks to overcome a 1-1 draw against Elche.
Malaga became the first top-flight club to be eliminated when it was held by second-division club Numancia to a 1-1 draw at home.
Numancia had won the first leg 2-1.
It is the third straight season Malaga has been eliminated in the Round of 32.
Leganes advanced 3-1 on aggregate by defeating second-division club Valladolid 1-0.
It is only the second time Leganes has made it to the Round of 16, and the first since 2000.
Forward Iago Aspas converted a 90th-minute penalty to help Celta Vigo defeat Eibar 1-0 and advance 3-1 on aggregate after a 2-1 win in the first leg.
Levante 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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