International

Real Madrid suffer another humiliating defeat

2018-01-25 07:14
Zinedine Zidane (Twitter)

Madrid - Real Madrid crashed to a humiliating Copa del Rey exit on Wednesday when they were knocked out by little Leganes in the quarter-finals, adding to the atmosphere of crisis at the European champions.

Real lost 2-1 in the second leg at the Bernabeu as the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate with their modest city neighbours going through on away goals despite having lost the first leg 1-0 last week.

Javi Eraso gave Leganes a 32nd minute lead before Karim Benzema levelled after 47 minutes but Brazilian striker Gabriel Pires then hit the winner with a firm header eight minutes later.

It was a depressing evening for Zinedine Zidane's side who, despite being in the Champions League last 16 where they face Paris Saint-Germain in three weeks' time, are 19 points behind Barcelona in the Spanish title race.

The home fans let their feelings known by booing off the team at half-time.

Leganes have the lowest budget in La Liga of just €45 million - six times less than the €675 million commanded by mighty Real.

Even without Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, who were rested Wednesday after starring in the 7-1 rout of Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend, Real's second-string side should still have had enough firepower for a side languishing in 13th spot in La Liga.

But Leganes put on an inspired display, despite having their backs to the wall late in the game, to make the semi-finals for the first time.

In the night's other game, Valencia made the semi-finals but needed a 3-2 penalty shoot-out to defeat Alaves who won 2-1 for a 3-3 aggregate.

On Tuesday, Sergio Escudero's goal after just 24 seconds set Sevilla on their way to a 3-1 win over Atletico Madrid and a place in the semi-finals. Sevilla, finalists in 2016, had won the first leg 2-1.

Meanwhile, Brazilian play-maker Philippe Coutinho has been named in the Barcelona squad for Thursday's Copa del Rey clash against Espanyol, his first call-up since his €160 million move from Liverpool.

Coutinho, who has been handed the number 14 shirt vacated by China-bound Javier Mascherano, but had been sidelined by a thigh injury since his drawn-out transfer saga came to an end on January 6.

The number 14 shirt was also worn by the club's Dutch legend Johan Cruyff who died in 2016.

Coutinho has been cleared to make his debut at Camp Nou as Barcelona look to overturn a 1-0 defeat to Espanyol in the first leg of their quarter-final clash.

Coutinho spent six months with Barcelona's city rivals on loan in 2012.

Club captain Andres Iniesta and striker Paco Alcacer were also included in the 19-man squad for Thursday's game as was Colombian defender Yerry Mina, another transfer window recruit.

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