Sports Desk: A Lucas Vazquez brace helped send a very unconvincing Real Madrid to the Copa del Rey quarterfinals after a 2-2 draw in their Round of 16 second leg with second division side Numancia on Wednesday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
The result gave Real a 5-2 win on aggregate after last week's 3-0 first-leg triumph in Soria, reports marca.com on Thursday.
Lucas Vazquez's brace was offset by a pair of goals from Numancia striker Guillermo, who came off the bench in the 41st minute for the injured Higinio and bagged himself two goals for the visitors.
The result will only increase the criticism that Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has been receiving in recent weeks. Outside of a 20-minute window at the start of the second-half, there was little to feel good about from the Real perspective and extended the side's winless streak to three.
Zidane fielded a reserve-heavy starting XI, with Dani Carvajal the only normal starter included after the right-back had been suspended for last Sunday league encounter at Celta.
It took a few minutes for Real to get going, but once Lucas Vazquez beat Numancia's offside trap and headed in Carvajal's cross from the right to make it 1-0 on 10 minutes, the hosts took control.
But all that possession doesn't necessarily translate into more goals, and while Los Blancos were camped out in the Numancia end for most of the half, they lacked ideas in the final third.
When the guests from Soria did counter-attack, it was done quickly and crisply by Dani Nieto, who kept the Real defence on its heels. And it would be the former Barcelona youth product who crafted Numancia's shock equaliser right before half-time. Nieto played a perfect pass down the left wing to Mateu, whose cross was just as good for Guillermo to latch onto to draw Numancia level 1-1.
Even with the Numancia goal, Real still owned a hefty 4-1 advantage on aggregate, but it was important for Real to show a better brand of football in the second-half.
There was more of an edge to Real's play to start the second 45 minutes, and a sharp move from Dani Ceballos set up Nacho, who fired just over the crossbar. Minutes later the urgency that Real were showing would bear fruit. Mateo Kovacic marshalled a counter-attack that saw the Croatia international find Marco Asensio down the left, and the cross floated in by Asensio for Borja Mayoral was headed down to Lucas Vazquez, who hammered in from close-range for the 2-1 lead.
Numancia were not about to give up though, and they fancied getting a result from their rare Bernabeu visit. Nacho had the second Numancia goal but was denied by Real goalkeeper Kiko Casilla. The rebound fell right back to Nacho, who played to Guillermo but his back-heel was easily saved. Moments later Pere Milla had a decent look at goal on a Nacho cross but could not convert.
Much to the delight of the travelling fans though, the equaliser would come, as Saul picked out Guillermo, who beat Nacho and spun a header past a Casilla for his second goal of the net, giving Numancia a 2-2 draw they won't soon forget.
Real will look to get back on track in LaLiga this Saturday when they host Deportivo.
risingbd/Dhaka/Jan 11, 2018/Nasim