Gareth Bale scored a penalty on his first start since September and Isco tucked away another spot-kick as Real Madrid opened 2018 with a 3-0 win at 10-man Numancia in the first leg of their last-16 Copa del Rey tie on Thursday.
Lucas Vazquez won both penalties for drawing fouls by Carlos Gutierrez and Unai Medina, although Numancia could feel both spot-kicks were soft awards, with Borja Mayoral wrapping up the victory with a stoppage-time header.
Bale was one of the few first-team regulars on show at Los Pajaritos, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos among those rested as Madrid returned from Spanish football’s winter break, having lost their last match of 2017 3-0 at home to Barcelona.
Zinedine Zidane was marking the second anniversary of his appointment as Madrid head coach, but the Frenchman had a nervy night until late on as second-tier side Numancia pushed Los Blancos hard.
Bale opened the scoring from the penalty spot, the forward confidently rolling the spot-kick home, and Numancia’s hopes of producing a fightback were seemingly ended after Pape Maly Diamanka was sent off with half an hour to play, having caught Nacho on the ankle with a late challenge.
Jagoba Arrasate’s side almost snatched an equaliser in spectacular fashion with 15 minutes to play, Inigo Perez spotting Kiko Casilla off his line, but seeing his 45-yard chip bounce back off the crossbar, only for Isco to convert another arguable penalty and Mayoral to head home a late third.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) January 4, 2018
Bale was making his first start since September after calf and thigh injuries and the Wales international hit an early free-kick into the wall.
Numancia were on a five-match unbeaten run and Higinio Marin went close to giving the hosts a shock lead, drilling just wide of the far post in the 13th minute.
Mayoral scored twice against Fuenlabrada in the last round and the striker should have hit the net again, somehow turning Marco Asensio’s deep free-kick wide from point-blank range.
Madrid survived a penalty appeal when Theo Hernandez appeared to tug the arm of Dani Nieto in the box, then referee Javier Estrada Fernandez gave the LaLiga champions a debatable spot-kick at the other end after 35 minutes.
Vazquez nutmegged Gutierrez but went down theatrically under minimal contact, Bale tucking the penalty away by sending Munir Mohamedi the wrong way with a stuttered run-up.
@GarethBale11 celebrates bagging our first goal of !
— Real Madrid C.F.
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