(Ramos, Ronaldo; Torres 2)
Copa del Rey, Santiago Bernabeu, 15/1/15
Fernando Torres took just 79 seconds to send holders Real Madrid crashing out of the Copa del Rey with his first goals since returning to Atletico Madrid as Diego Simeone’s side drew 2-2 at the Bernabeu to progress to the next round with a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.
The former Chelsea and Liverpool man needed just 46 seconds to open the scoring with his first-ever goal at the Bernabeu and after Sergio Ramos levelled things up with a header in the first half Torres restored the visitors’ lead 33 seconds after the restart as lightning struck twice.
Cristiano Ronaldo, lauded before the match by a packed Bernabeu, gave the holders a glimmer of hope by heading in Gareth Bale’s cross with 35 minutes to go but Atleti, who have now beaten Madrid four times from five meetings this season, held on in comfortable fashion to progress to a date with Barcelona in the next round.
Carlo Ancelotti fielded the strongest team available to him although Keylor Navas, Madrid’s designated Copa del Rey goalkeeper, started in place of Iker Casillas. Ronaldo returned to the starting line-up after dropping to the bench last week and Dani Carvajal came in for the injured Alvaro Arbeloa.
Diego Simeone did likewise and took no chances despite holding a two-goal cushion from the first leg. Torres, who had never scored at the Bernabeu going into the game, got the nod to start in his second Madrid derby in just over a week with Mario Mandzukic not even in the squad. Miranda returned from a hamstring injury to replace last week’s goal hero Jose Gimenez and Guilherme Siqueira was passed fit to start.
The Bernabeu turned gold before kick-off as fans held up gold cards in a tribute to Ronaldo, who retained his Ballon d’Or title in Zurich on Monday. A banner was also unveiled across the bottom tier of the West Stand before the Portuguese star showed off his latest individual prize along with fellow award winners James Rodriguez, Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos.
Madrid were still handing out those accolades when Atleti hit their hosts with a sucker-punch less than a minute in. Antoine Griezmann got free of Pepe down the left and sent a pin-point cross to Torres, who was left unmarked at the back post to drill the opener into the top corner with 55 seconds on the clock. As Sergio Ramos was in the build-up, Navas was left rooted to his spot.
It forced Ancelotti’s men to up the tempo right from the off and Pepe’s header went off target in reply before Bale connected with a dangerous Carvajal cross but it didn’t have the power to beat Jan Oblak.
As expected even before Torres grabbed the opener, Atleti were proving a tough nut to crack at the back but Madrid’s plan of firing crosses into the box was playing straight into the hands of the visitors. A Toni Kroos corner caused havoc inside the Atleti box on one occasion but Oblak scooped up the danger.
That was until the 20th minute when the holders made their breakthrough. Ronaldo was fouled outside the box and when Kroos whipped the resulting free-kick Oblak came racing from his line but failed to connect and left Ramos with an open net to head into it. His famous 93rd-minute leveller against Atleti in Lisbon turned the game in favour of Madrid winning their tenth European Cup and a packed home crowd hoped his latest header was going to have the same impact.
Madrid were piling on the pressure and Ronaldo was gifted a golden opportunity to give his side the lead just three minutes later. James Rodriguez’s cross caused more havoc in the visiting box and the loose ball fell to Ronaldo, who struck his effort well but Mario Suarez anticipated the danger to get the block in.
Ronaldo was close again just before the half-hour when he held his position at the back post and Bale picked him out with a deep cross but the man of the moment saw his header deflected wide for a corner. With the tide continuing in the direction of the Atleti goal both Kroos and Bale saw shots blocked as the visitors clung on.
Karim Benzema also had a couple of half chances inside the Atleti box as Madrid bossed possession but the visitors soon closed down and outnumbered the French international whenever he got a sniff of strike inside the box.
Ronaldo saw a big appeal for handball from one of his shots inside the box turned away and Benzema had a low shot saved by Oblak as the first half finished level.
Madrid had 45 minutes to save their cup campaign but any remaining hopes were dashed less than 40 seconds after the restart as lightning struck twice. Griezmann was given plenty of space to surge through the Madrid defence and he slipped his fellow peroxide blonde forward in, who wrong-footed Pepe and slid the ball in despite the best efforts of Navas.
It left the hosts needing four goals in 45 minutes to progress, an ask against any team let alone one Ancelotti described as having the best defence in Europe. Madrid at least gave themselves a glimmer of hope ten minutes later when Ronaldo headed home a Bale cross and the hosts raced back to the halfway line to get the game back underway.
Torres was denied his hat-trick when Simeone hauled off the two-goal man for Arda Turan while Pepe left the field holding his ribs after a collision with Raul Garcia and was replaced by Raphael Varane.
Madrid started to take the initiative again as the seconds ticked away but Atleti had every man back behind the ball defending and made life tough for their hosts. Marcelo managed to get one shot away but it trickled wide of Oblak’s goal while Benzema fired over from point-blank range inside a crowded box.
Ancelotti’s next throw of the dice was the introduction of Jese to add more pace to the attack. He replaced James Rodriguez and although he lined up in a middle three he pushed further forward than the Colombian as Madrid looked to salvage something from the tie.
Madrid’s pressure eased, however, perhaps thwarted by the introduction of Gabi into the Atleti midfield at the expense of Griezmann. Benzema saw one chance deflected over by Miranda with just over ten minutes to play and Bale flashed a Marcelo cross over the bar but on the whole the hosts seemed to have accepted their fate.
Madrid: Navas, Carvajal, Marceloa, Pepe, Ramos, Kroos, Isco, James Rodriguez, Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo. Subs: Casillas, Varane, Coentrao, Khedira, Chicharito, Jese, Illarramendi.
Atleti: Oblak, Juanfran, Siqueira, Godin, Miranda, Mario Suarez, Tiago, Koke, Raul Garcia, Torres, Griezmann. Subs: Moya, Arda, Raul Jimenez, Gabi, Saul, Jesus Gamez, Gimenez.