Real Madrid traveled to face second-tier Numancia in the first leg of their Copa del Rey Round of 16 matchup on Thursday. They were fortunate to come out with a 3-0 victory, scoring two penalties and riding their luck against a Numancia side that was inches away from greatness.
Real Madrid rested a number of stars for the cup match but still fielded a team with Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez. Numancia, which is currently in fifth place in the Segunda Division in Spain, fielded none of its $100 million stars, probably because it has none.
Nonetheless, Numancia had some of the best chances of the match. This effort that would have tied the match despite being a man down summed up the day for the Numantinos.
Early in the match, Higinio Marin skidded his shot just wide of the post in what would become a theme for Numancia, unable to capitalize against Los Blancos.
That chance came moments after this lovely bit of skill from Pere Milla, who nutmegged his Real Madrid defender before Real hurriedly knocked the ball out of bounds for a corner.
But Los Blancos took the lead in the 35th minute when Gareth Bale buried a penalty after Lucas Vasquez was taken down in the box.
But despite plenty of opportunities, Numancia trailed 1-0 at the break and failed to put a shot on target.
Real Madrid pulled away in the second half, not so much through their own doing. At certain points, Real Madrid players couldn’t get out of their own way.
Communication is key! pic.twitter.com/WoSj7LpY1L
Ultimately, a second yellow for Diamanka changed the game, with his crunching challenge on Nacho putting Numancia down a man for the final 30 minutes.
Real Madrid took control with the man advantage when Isco scored a penalty after Vasquez again was taken down in the box. The goal in the 89th minute finally gave Real Madrid a little breathing room.
Borja Mayoral completed the scoring with a simple back-post header in the 91st minute.
The second leg of Real Madrid vs. Numancia will be Jan. 10 at the Bernabeu. Numancia might have had a chance had it not been so unfortunate on Thursday night. But at least Real Madrid can be happy it did better than Barcelona, which tied Celta Vigo 1-1 on Thursday.