Dani Ceballos’ late goal saw Real Madrid beat Villarreal 3-2 and complete a stunning comeback in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
Madrid were beaten 3-1 by rivals Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana final on Sunday and found themselves two goals down at the break at Estadio de la Ceramica after goals from Etienne Capoue and Samuel Chukwueze.
But Vinicius Junior halved the deficit with a composed 57th-minute finish before Eder Militao prodded home from close range.
With the last-16 tie seemingly heading for extra time. Ceballos proved Madrid’s unlikely hero as he lashed in to keep Madrid’s hopes of winning a 20th Copa del Rey title alive.
The hosts were ahead inside four minutes, Capoue latching onto Gerard Moreno’s clever flick before powerfully firing past Thibaut Courtois from a tight angle.
Federico Valverde and Rodrygo both failed to convert after Ferland Mendy’s good work to set them up, and Villarreal made Madrid pay when Moreno dinked a delightful throughball into Chukwueze, who made no mistake.
Vinicius hauled Madrid back into it after some slick interplay put the Brazil international in on goal, and parity was restored 12 minutes later.
Filip Jorgensen palmed Karim Benzema’s header straight to Militao, and he duly tapped in.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team would not let their momentum slide, and had their winner when Ceballos calmly placed the ball past the diving Jorgensen with four minutes left to play.
Waiter! One comeback, please.|
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden)
What does it mean? Madrid bounce back from Supercopa disappointment
Madrid were well-beaten by Barcelona on Sunday, and they looked to still be carrying the weight of that defeat as a slow start allowed Villarreal to race out to a 2-0 lead.
But Ancelotti’s side were much improved after the break and ended up being deserved winners as Ceballos’ strike secured their progression into the quarter-finals having registered 1.96 xG (expected goals) to Villarreal’s 1.21.
While the goalscorers will get the plaudits, the much-improved second-half defensive display restricted the hosts to no shots on target in the second half, while managing five of their own.
Ceballos seizes his chance
The former Arsenal midfielder has started just three LaLiga matches this season, but he certainly grabbed this opportunity in the cup with both hands.
Aside from his brilliant finish for the winner, Ceballos finished joint-top among Madrid players for shots (two), chances created (two) and assists (one).
Benzema not at his best
Despite playing a part in Madrid’s equaliser, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner fell short of the lofty expectations he has set for himself with a blunt display.
Benzema could not score with either of his two shots, while he failed to win any of his four duels or complete a successful dribble as it was left to the likes of Vinicius and Ceballos to provide Madrid’s attacking output.
Both teams return to LaLiga action on Sunday, with Madrid facing Athletic Bilbao while Villarreal will host Girona.