Madrid ends winless run with late Asensio goal in Copa

ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 19, 2018 07:37 AM
Madrid ends winless run with late Asensio goal in Copa
FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 file photo, Real Madrid's head coach Zinedine Zidane gestures during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid at San Mames stadium, in Bilbao, northern Spain. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos, File)

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press

MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid took a small step toward ending its crisis by defeating Leganes 1-0 with an 89th-minute goal by Marco Asensio in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Thursday.

Madrid's reserve team gave another lackluster performance, but Asensio salvaged the victory with a close-range shot into the top corner after a well-placed cross by Theo Hernandez.

The result ended Madrid's three-match winless streak and eased some of the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane after poor results.

"If we are able to keep scoring, we will keep gaining confidence," Asensio said. "We need to win a few matches in a row and then things will start improving."

It was an open match at Butarque Stadium just outside of Madrid. Leganes hit the woodwork in the second half, and Madrid finally broke the deadlock when Asensio beat a defender to Hernandez's cross from the left side.

"This goal in the end hurt our chances of having a better shot at advancing at the Bernabeu," Leganes defender Unai Bustinza said.

The second leg is next week.

Despite Madrid's struggles, Zidane did not use his main squad, resting Cristiano Ronaldo and others for the Spanish league game at Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday. Right back Dani Carvajal and central defender Raphael Varane were the only regular starters to begin Thursday's game. Luka Modric and Isco entered the match in the second half.

On Wednesday, Lionel Messi missed a penalty kick and three-time defending Copa del Rey champion Barcelona lost at Espanyol 1-0, while Sevilla came from behind to defeat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in Madrid. Valencia rallied at home to defeat last year's runner-up Alaves 2-1. The return matches are next week.

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