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Real take big step toward Copa del Rey quarters


Real take big step toward Copa del Rey quarters

Gareth Bale's penalty set Real Madrid on their way to an ultimately comfortable 3-0 win in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie against Numancia on Thursday (Jan 4).

Gareth Bale's penalty set Real Madrid on their way to an ultimately comfortable 3-0 win in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie at Numancia. Bale, playing in a Real side made up largely of fringe players, converted coolly from the spot 10 minutes before half-time to notch his first goal in domestic competition since September.

The Welshman, whose campaign has been disrupted by a succession of injuries which have limited him to just six LaLiga appearances, sent goalkeeper Munir the wrong way with a penalty low into the left corner.

Numancia played the last 30 minutes with 10 men following a red card for Pape Maly Diamanka, but remained in the contest until the final stages when another penalty, this time from second-half substitute Isco, and a header from Borja Mayoral put the tie to bed.

The hosts, fifth in the second tier and unbeaten since November, held their own early on, with Lucas Vazquez firing narrowly wide of the left-hand post after being set up by Theo Hernandez and Bale also off target from a Dani Ceballos cross.

Vazquez's skill created the opening goal as Carlos Gutierrez fell for his trick in the area and brought him down. Bale did the rest from 12 yards.

Numancia continued to frustrate Real after the break, Vazquez blazing high and Daniel Carvajal seeing his effort from a tight angle on the right kept out by Munir. But the hosts' task got harder on the hour mark when midfielder Diamanka was sent off for a second booking.

Bale was replaced by Mateo Kovacic moments later. Higinio Marin headed wide from a Dani Nieto cross as Numancia briefly threatened, while at the other end Ceballos' long-range attempt was saved low by Munir.

The hosts almost drew level in stunning fashion when Inigo Perez's effort from way out thundered off the crossbar.

But the 10-men's hopes of going into the second leg at the Bernabeu still in the tie were dashed late on. Five minutes after he had shot just over, Isco fired an 89th-minute penalty high into the top corner after Vazquez had drawn another foul, this time from Unai Medina. And in time added on Mayoral headed home number three from close range.

Real will look to secure a quarter-final place next Wednesday, but holders Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw by Celta Vigo.

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