Real Madrid take a 4-2 aggregate lead to Montilivi next week in their Copa Del Rey quarter-final, after a first leg brace from skipper Sergio Ramos saw the hosts come from behind at the Bernabeu against Girona.
After Anthony Lozano had given Eusebio Sacristan’s rotated Blanquivermell side a surprise seventh minute lead, Lucas Vazquez leveled in rapid fashion before Ramos led the fight back for his side.
In the evening’s other tie. goals from Borja Iglesias and Antonio Sanabria saw Espanyol and Real Betis share a 1-1 draw, before the two sides meet again in a week’s time in Andalusia.
Los Blancos again endure rocky ride
It was far from smooth sailing for Santiago Solari’s men at the Bernabeu. A Los Blancos’ defence that has in recent weeks been sorely exposed was again at fault after Girona took an early lead through Lozano’s effort, as the Bernabeu again saw the home side defence fall apart.
Madrid’s response was emphatic as the hosts raced forward in numbers. Indeed, in the 18th-minute Vazquez leveled the scores, before Ramos’s penalty three minutes before the break gave Los Blancos the lead.
Again Solari’s side continued to boss proceedings, but were again caught by a sucker punch after Girona themselves won a spot kick mid-way through the second half.
With Cristian Stuani on the bench, Alex Granell stepped up to coolly slip the ball past the returning Thibaut Courtois and even the scores at 2-2.
As Madrid threw caution to the wind, skipper Ramos again found the target with 77 minutes on the watch to continue his prolific goal-scoring record this season, before Benzema scored a fourth three minutes later, on the counter-attack.
Solari’s men had in truth, dominated for large parts of the game and will fancy their chances of advancing next week, but with Girona themselves capable of finding the target as well as frustrating the opposition defence at home, this one is far from over.
Sanabria nets vital goal in Catalonia
In the night’s other Copa del Rey tie at the RCDE Stadium, Los Perequitos again gained the upper hand in their own back yard, as talisman Iglesias opened the scoring.
During a tight and closely fought meeting in Catalonia, Betis’ threatened throughout with pace on the break and after finding frustration with wave after wave of set pieces, Beticos grabbed a vital goal to take back to Benito Villamarin in seven days time.
Sanabria has of late suffered somewhat of a drought in front of goal since the turn of the year, but the Paraguayan international striker struck with nine minutes left to play, with both Betis and Espanyol eyeing a place in next month’s last four.
The second legs of the Copa del Rey conclude next week.