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Rodrygo to the rescue! Brazilian saves lethargic Real Madrid as Los Blancos scrape past lowly Cacereno to reach Copa del Rey last 16

02:13 GMT+4 04/01/2023
Real Madrid Cacereno 2022-23
Real Madrid were struggling against fourth-tier Cacereño in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday, before Rodrygo's mazy run helped save his side's blushes.
  • Drab first half between two sides
  • Rodrygo's moment of brilliance the turning point
  • Real missed recognised number nine

TELL ME MORE: Carlo Ancelotti started the match without a recognised number nine and it showed. Despite Lucas Vazquez having a first-half strike chalked off for an offside in the build up, the away side rarely threatened Ivan Moreno in the Cacereno goal. Real came out in the second half similarly lethargic before a piece of brilliance from Rodrygo in the 69th minute put his side in front. Ancelotti was rewarded for putting the Brazilian on his favoured left flank when a mazy run and cool finish past Moreno made it 1-0, which is how the game finished.

THE MVP: In a largely uninspiring display from Ancelotti's men, Rodrygo's moment of magic helped put Los Blancos in control against a motivated Cacereno side. Despite occasionally stinging Moreno's gloves, there had been few big chances before the Brazilian's incisive dribbling and cool finish broke the deadlock. Rodrygo has certainly had more impressive displays in a Madrid shirt, but his goal proved decisive in a narrow 1-0 win.

THE BIG LOSER: While no Real Madrid player particularly dazzled, there was a familiar sight for Madridistas at the Estadio Principe Felipe - the absence of Eden Hazard for most of the match. The Belgian recorded fewer touches than goalkeeper Andriy Lunin in the first half, before eventually being substituted for youngster Alvaro Rodriguez in the 68th minute. Yet another night to forget for Hazard in what has been a nightmare spell in the Spanish capital, despite Ancelotti stressing his importance for the team in recent weeks.

MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR REAL MADRID? Carlo Ancelotti's side will now turn their attention to overtaking Barcelona at the top of La Liga. Los Blancos are level on points with their Catalan rivals and take on seventh-placed Villarreal on Thursday.

MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE):