Real Madrid's Isco, Marco Asensio make Copa del Rey cases for regular first-team inclusion
Real Madrid strolled into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, with a mostly second-string side winning 6-1 on the day for a 10-1 aggregate victory to progress against third-tier Melilla.
Madrid had not won a Copa del Rey game at the Bernabeu for two seasons, so the victory was welcome. Marco Asensio stood out clearly during his time on the pitch, Isco showed he still has great quality with two fine strikes, while youngsters Javi Sanchez, Fede Valverde and Vinicius Junior all showed welcome signs of progress.
Difficult to pick holes in a 10-1 aggregate win, but Mariano Diaz had a frustrating game up front, before limping off late on with what looks another hamstring injury.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Blancos coach Santi Solari was again rewarded for trust for continued trust in his younger squad members. Will also have been happy with how senior players Isco and Asensio reacted to having been benched recently.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Keylor Navas, 7 -- Now firmly second choice behind Thibaut Courtois, the Costa Rican had an early scare when a clearance went straight to a Melilla attacker, but then dealt comfortably with the Segunda B side's few shots on target.
DF Alvaro Odriozola, 7 -- Didn't quite hit the heights of his first leg display, but pushed forward as often as possible, and had plausible penalty claim turned down in second half.
DF Javi Sanchez, 7 -- An obvious favourite of his former Castilla manager Solari, the confident character got his first senior goal with a very well taken volley off the crossbar from 10 yards. Sergio Ramos comparisons continued with the needless trip which gave Melilla a consolation from the penalty spot late on.
DF Jesus Vallejo, 7 -- A first start of 2018-19 for the 21-year-old, who will be delighted to have got through the 90 minutes without any new injury issues. Really needs to play more games, and could leave in January to do just that.
DF Dani Carvajal, 7 -- The world's best right-back, according to the ESPN FC 100, filled in over on the left without any problems during first 45 minutes. Crashed painfully into a post when making a brave clearance during Melilla's early pressure.
MF Isco, 7 -- Strange situation with the local fans and pundits favourite given a chance to show he deserves more playing time from Solari. Looked short of form and confidence for most of the 90 minutes, but clipped a trademark 25-yard shot to the top corner soon after half-time and again finished expertly when given space and time inside the box late on.
MF Marcos Llorente, 7 -- Again neat and tidy in possession while holding the centre to stop Melilla countering. His withdrawal at half-time a sign he's going to keep his starting spot for Sunday's La Liga game at Huesca.
MF Fede Valverde, 8 -- The 20-year-old Uruguayan continued his progress with an excellent first senior start for Madrid, playing a more attacking role in first 45, and particularly impressing on the ball in the holding position in the second half.
FW Marco Asensio, 9 -- Another with plenty to prove to Solari, Asensio was a few steps above everyone else on the pitch, easing his way through the Melilla defence to open the scoring, whipping in the second, and laying on the third with a precise clip over the top.
FW Mariano Diaz, 6 -- Just back from injury and not yet at full sharpness, as most clearly shown with a heavy touch when sent clear behind defence at 0-0. Kept shooting on sight in second half in clear hope of getting on the scoresheet himself, before limping disconsolately from the pitch with a few minutes left.
FW Vinicius Junior, 8 -- The €45 million teenager began really well and provided an excellent run along the by-line and pull-back for Asensio's second. Confidence seemed to wane as six chances for his first Madrid goal came and went, but he stuck at it and got a slightly fortunate reward when a seventh shot squeezed past Melilla keeper Pedro Luis to the net.
DF Fran Garcia, 7 -- The left-back, 19, was given his senior debut when replacing Carvajal at the break. Looked confident and pushed forward well, especially when providing the assist for Isco's second goal.
MF Dani Ceballos, 7 -- Replaced Llorente for the second half with the tie already over. Linked cleverly with Isco and Asensio while always playing well within himself.
MF Alvaro Fidalgo, N/R -- Another Castilla youngster to get a debut under Solari, as a late replacement for Vinicius.