Lucas Vazquez gets 8/10 with strong all-round play against Numancia
Real Madrid effectively sealed their place in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey with a 3-0 defeat of a spirited Numancia in Los Pajaritos that was neither pretty nor unaided by a dose of good fortune after the home side lost captain Adrian Ripa to injury after 20 minutes and Pape Diamanka to a red card after an hour. Gareth Bale and Isco struck from the spot before Borja Mayoral embellished the score in stoppage time. Numancia should have had a penalty in the first half and were harshly penalized for Real's second after rattling the bar at 1-0 down.
Zinedine Zidane can afford himself the luxury of another outing for his fringe players in the Bernabeu after a late double put the tie beyond the Segunda outfit. Bale was again a bright spot and took a couple of robust challenges in stride, suggesting his injury woes are behind him. Lucas Vazquez stepped up in the absence of a coherent team effort and marked the difference.
When fans of a Segunda side are cheering their players with "Oles" at 1-0 down against the European champions, all is not well. Numancia were without several first-teamers themselves and yet a 1-1 draw would have far from flattered the hosts.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Zidane can only work with what he has at his disposal, but on his second anniversary in the Madrid dugout he must now recognize that his summer transfer policy was fatally flawed. His second string are considerably weaker than a year ago and have scored just once from open play in two away Copa games against lower-division opposition.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kiko Casilla, 6 -- Made a sharp save from Higinio Marin but had little else to do except shepherd a couple of shots around the post. Almost caught out by Inigo Perez in the second half, as he was saved by his crossbar.
DF Dani Carvajal, 6 -- As active in attack as ever and almost got on the end of a couple of chances in a game he shouldn't have been playing in at all but was included to add some experience to a raw backline in view of his suspension for the Celta match.
DF Nacho, 7 -- Captain on the night, the versatile Nacho did what he does best, adding a cool head to the proceedings and a solid boot to several Numancia crosses.
DF Jesus Vallejo, 6 -- Made a few runs from the back and pressed Numancia when Real were in the opposing half. Composed bringing the ball out, his decision-making is still a little suspect as displayed by a poor back pass at the start of the second half and a yellow for hauling down Diamanka on the break.
DF Theo Hernandez, 4 -- Lucky not to concede a penalty in the first half and lost his running battle with former Barca B man Dani Nieto. Reluctant to get forward and weak defensively, he spent most of the evening on the turf appealing for non-existent free kicks.
MF Marcos Llorente, 5 -- Anchored the midfield but showed a tendency to over-elaborate. Beaten too easily and too often on the back foot, Llorente was caught out in midfield by Perez, who almost bagged a goal-of-the-season contender.
MF Dani Ceballos, 6 -- Struggled to impose himself in the first half but his radar kicked in during the second and he played some excellent balls over the defence while showcasing some deft flicks and touches.
MF Marco Asensio, 7 -- Generally neat and tidy but overran the ball on occasion. Not the decisive player Zidane could rely on earlier in the season but exhibited a few flashes of his undoubted genius, capped by a ruleta in the second half as he probed the Numancia left to good effect.
MF Lucas Vazquez, 8 -- Should have squared on 18 minutes put prodded into the side netting. Alone in his willingness to run at defenders after Gareth Bale departed, Vazquez earned Real's second spot kick with the same quick feet that presented the first in a solid all-around performance.
FW Gareth Bale, 7 -- Quickly saw the profit to be gained by drifting left and right to pull Numancia's back four around. Buried his penalty coolly enough, sending Munir the wrong way, in a performance that more than hinted of plenty to come if he can remain fit.
FW Borja Mayoral, 5 -- Fluffed a dress rehearsal to put the out-of-form Karim Benzema under pressure, missing a sitter from Asensio's first-half free kick. Showed good footwork in midfield but aslo a heavy touch in the area, epitomised by a poor effort 10 minutes from time. His headed goal with Numancia bowed and beaten should not detract from an otherwise underwhelming display.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 7 -- On for Bale with half an hour to play, added a touch of class and industry to the midfield.
MF Isco, NR -- On for Ceballos, did wonderfully to carve out a chance for himself but blasted over from a few yards out. Made amends from the spot with a perfectly placed penalty.
DF Achraf Hakimi, NR -- On for Asensio with the Celta game in mind, added an assist for good measure as he prepares to deputise in Balaidos.
Rob Train covers Real Madrid and the Spanish national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Cafc13Rob.