Jose Rodriguez took the plaudits on his senior debut as Real Madrid eased to a 4-1 Copa del Rey first leg win at minnows Alcoyano on Wednesday night, with Madrid boss Jose Mourinho saying the youngster's assured goal and performance proved his point about the faults in the club's youth set-up.
Mourinho followed Tuesday's criticism of Madrid Castilla coach Alberto Toril by starting brothers Nacho and Alex Rodriguez and attacker Alvaro Morata against third-tier Alcoyano, but it was 17-year-old Rodriguez who stole the show, replacing Alex at half-time, scoring Real's third goal and passing the ball assuredly from Xabi Alonso's usual deep midfield position.
Rodriguez was a substitute for Castilla last weekend and Mourinho's praise for the youngster after the game was phrased in a way which continued his criticism of Toril for being more concerned with getting results than giving younger kids a chance.
"I liked his performance and everyone did," Mourinho said. "He has potential and the time to progress to be a first team player, not just to pass through but to arrive and stay. That is the most important. If it is possible he would play more, as he plays very little and it is important for him to have more minutes."
Rodriguez, who reportedly turned down a five-year contract offer from Arsenal in October 2011, turns 18 in December. He told reporters after the game that he had not expected things to do go so well.
"I am very happy," Rodriguez said. "I did not expect to play or score. I hit it and had the luck. Mourinho told me to be calm and play as I do in my team. Every canterano wants to play in the first team."
Madrid, who won the competition in 2011, all but wrapped up their place in the last 16 of the competition thanks also to two goals from Karim Benzema and a neat Kaka strike. Alcoyano's consolation came when impressive midfielder Javi Lara caught out Madrid's back-up 'keeper Adan, another youth product, with a direct free kick from the left wing.
Overall Mourinho said he was impressed with a professional performance from his side. "We did not come here to joke around," he said. "We like the Copa and did not want to go down in the negative history this club has sometimes had in the tournament. We did our work seriously."