Madrid stunned by Leganes at home, eliminated from Copa
Real Madrid's Francisco Roman "Isco" reacts after Leganes scored a goal during of the Spanish Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. Leganes won 2-1. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid was eliminated from the Copa del Rey quarterfinals after a shock 2-1 defeat by Leganes at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday.
Playing without Cristiano Ronaldo and other regular starters, Madrid was unable to defend its 1-0 win from the first leg, crashing out on the away goals rule after a 2-2 draw on aggregate.
The Bernabeu crowd loudly jeered Madrid after the loss, which again leaves coach Zinedine Zidane and his players under pressure in what has been a disappointing season.
Madrid is in fourth place at the start of the second half in the Spanish league, trailing leader Barcelona by 19 points with a game in hand. It's only realistic chance of a title for the rest of the season will be in the Champions League. It faces Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.
It's the second consecutive year that Madrid has been eliminated in the Copa quarterfinals, having lost to Celta Vigo last season.
Leganes was playing in the last eight of the Copa for the first time in the team's 89-year history.
The crosstown visitors provided the bigger threat at the Bernabeu, opening the scoring with Javi Eraso's curling shot into the top corner of the net. Eraso picked up the loose ball just outside the area after a bad exchange of passes between Madrid defenders Achraf Hakimi and Nacho Fernandez. Hakimi's pass was too short and Fernandez couldn't control the ball under pressure from Eraso.
After being jeered by the Bernabeu crowd at halftime, Madrid came back strongly after the break, with Karim Benzema scoring early with a close-range shot over the goalkeeper after a through ball by Lucas Vazquez. The goal ended Benzema's six-match scoreless streak that dated back to November.
However, Leganes stunned the home crowd again less than 10 minutes later, when Gabriel Pires scored with a header from a corner taken by Eraso.
Benzema nearly scored an equalizer that would have allowed Madrid to advance in the 81st, but his shot from inside the area was saved by goalkeeper Nereo Champagne. The goalkeeper also stopped Sergio Ramos from scoring with a header in the 85th.
Ramos returned to action after missing a few matches because of an injury.
Sevilla advanced to the semifinals on Tuesday after eliminating Atletico Madrid 5-2 on aggregate. Three-time defending champion Barcelona hosts city rival Espanyol on Thursday to try to overcome a 1-0 first-leg loss.
WIN ON PENALTIES
Two penalty saves by goalkeeper Jaume Domenech helped Valencia defeat Alaves 3-2 in a shootout.
A 2-1 win by Alaves in regulation time of the second leg evened the series at 3-3 on aggregate. Domenech then stopped shots by Alfonso Pedraza and forward Hernan Perez to send Valencia through to the last four for the second time in three seasons.
Alaves forward Ruben Sobrino, who scored in both matches, missed the decisive penalty by sending the ball over the crossbar at Mendizorroza Stadium.
Rodrigo, Santi Mina and Jose Luis Gaya all converted from the spot for the visitors, with their only miss coming from midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia after a save by goalkeeper Antonio Sivera. Alaves' goals in the shootout were scored by Tomas Pina and Munir El Haddadi.
Domenech made both saves by diving to his left on low shots.
El Haddadi put Alaves in front with a header into the top corner after a long cross by Rodrigo Ely in the 73rd, and Santi Mina equalized in a breakaway four minutes later after a making a run from near the halfway line.
Sobrino netted the winner from close range following a free kick into the area.