Rodrygo’s superb goal triggers Copa del Rey turnaround

Real Madrid needed extra time to seal a dramatic Copa del Rey comeback as they beat rivals Atletico Madrid with a 3-1 quarter-final win on Thursday.

Los Blancos were heading to the Santiago Bernabeu after their former striker Alvaro Morata 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 will join Barcelona, ‚Äč‚ÄčAthletic Bilbao and Osasuna in the semi-finals, but Diego Simeone’s visitors will regret missing out on the final four.

Despite an early mastery of the game, it was the hosts who fell behind in the 19th minute when Morata tapped in Nahuel Molina’s square ball from close range.

Madrid squandered a great chance to level things on the half hour mark when Eder Militao was caught off guard with a free kick and missed a mere header.

Things 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 much of the game to find their answer, but their patience paid off in the 79th minute when Rodrygo passed four Atletico players before moving past Jan Oblak in his near post.

Tempers began to crumble between the two rivals in extra time, with Stefan Savic being sent off in the 99th minute after two yellow cards in quick succession.

Gifted with a men’s advantage, Madrid seized the opportunity with Benzema able to guide Vinicius’ rushing effort past Oblak, before the Brazilian sealed the game with his own finish, hidden after a fine run on the left wing.

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Cutting for composure and us in the first half, Los Blancos looked more energetic than confident after the interval, before Rodrygo managed to bring them back.

But after the Supercopa de Espana heartbreak against Barcelona earlier this month, Ancelotti will be delighted to see his side prove they can still thrive under pressure.

Vinicius offers a 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.

Although a little nervous throughout the match, he earned his reward at the end and drew the biggest roar of the night.

Passive performances push Atletico back

Having taken the lead at half-time, it was still likely that Simeone’s side would sit back and try to frustrate their rivals after the interval.

With just 30% possession in the 45 seconds, they finally let themselves be pushed out of the park and paid the price in overtime.

Facts about Opta

– Diego Simeone faced Real Madrid for the sixth time as Atletico boss in a cup game, all of which went to extra time (also 2013 Copa del Rey, 2014 and 2016 Champions League, Super Cup UEFA 2018 and Supercopa de Espana 2020).

– Molina’s assist for Morata means he’s provided one in his last three games, having registered none in 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 of the 27 goals Rodrygo has scored for Madrid have been in the last 20 minutes of matches (44.4%). The Brazilian has scored nine goals this season, equaling his highest tally in a single campaign for Los Blancos (2021-22).

– 17 of Vinicius’ 37 assists for Madrid have been for Karim Benzema (46%). Only Cristiano Ronaldo (27), Gareth Bale and Luka Modric (18 each) have provided more assists for Benzema than the Brazilian.

And after?

Both sides are in La Liga action on Sunday, with Real Madrid hosting Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid visiting Osasuna.

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