Real Madrid have claimed a strong first leg lead in the last 16 of the Copa Del Rey after a 3-0 win away to Numancia. Gareth Bale’s penalty set Los Blancos up for a comfortable victory.
Bale was returning from injury and the penalty 10 minutes before half time was his first goal in domestic action since September. Manager Zinedine Zidane had decided to make a number of changes from the last match before the winter break, resting most of his key men. This meant that Bale was one of the senior players expected to carry the team through.
He did just that, putting in a great leaders performance. For the penalty, the Welsh international sent goalkeeper Munir the wrong way to cooly put Real in front. The hosts had to play the last half an hour with just 10 men after Pape Maly Diamanka was shown a red card. Real Madrid still had to work for their win though, and Numancia were still in the game until very late on.
Los Blancos were given another penalty though, which substitute Isco put away for a 2-0 lead on the night. Borja Mayoral then pretty much put the tie out of Numancia’s reach with a very late header. Numancia are no pushovers and they proved that here. They are fifth in the Spanish second tier and were unbeaten since November.
The second leg of this tie is due to take place on Wednesday 10th January at the Santiago Bernabeu. It would be a monumental shock if Real Madrid lost a 3-0 lead from the first leg to a side in the Spanish second division, so a place in the Copa Del Rey quarter final should be secured. Real’s next fixture in La Liga takes place this Sunday, as Zinedine Zidane’s men travel to Celta Vigo for a big game.