The final fixture of the quarterfinal of the Copa del Rey saw Spanish football giants from the busy city of Madrid, Real and Atlético take on each other at the home stadium of the former, Santiago Bernabéu. The winner of this El Derbi Madrileño (The Madrid Derby) will join other semifinalists namely Barcelona, CA Osasuna and Athletic Club in the Last Four stage of the competition this season. The game went on to a full 120 minutes, and it was the visitor who took an early lead at its rival’s turf. Los Blancos equalised late in the second half and hit Atlético one goal each in the two halves of extra time to win the game 3-1, keeping their hopes of a domestic cup triumph alive.
Morata Scored Against His Former Club
New signing Memphis Depay continued to start the game from the bench for Diego Simeone’s side for two consecutive times while Carlo Ancelotti made two changes to his team that emerged victorious against Athletic Club at the San Mamés Barria, with his loyal servants Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos back to the starting line-up.
Colchoneros’ form since the FIFA World Cup break had been impressive prior to the game, having only lost once in seven matches in all competitions (A 1-0 defeat to Depay’s former club Barcelona). And the team kept its momentum going in this cup tie, drawing the first blood through a former Los Blancos’ man, Álvaro Morata. The no. 19 player from Atlético Madrid scored through a clinical cross from right-back Nahuel Molina after he was found by Koke’s long ball which tore Real’s defence apart; It was the 30-year-old’s ninth goal in 27 appearances for his club this season.
Rodrygo’s Amazing Late Equaliser Ignited an Extra Time Comeback Victory
Los Blancos was never going to let its chance of a domestic cup glory slip away, and Ancelotti’s men finally found the breakthrough an hour after Atlético’s goal. 21-year-old Rodrygo produced a moment of magic by dribbling past four opposing players, before slotting home a goal at the near post through outside of his boot. The strike saved Real Madrid from another domestic cup defeat in four recent matches and pushed the game to extra time.
Being given a new life in the game, Real came into the additional period with a different mindset and became its usual self since the visitor was down to 10 men after Stefan Savić received a red card. Marco Asensio’s low cross was completely mistimed by Brazil’s Vinícius Júnior, but his captain Karim Benzema made sure his team capitalise on the valuable opportunity and registered his 13th goal of the campaign. The 22-year-old Vinícius Júnior make up for his miss earlier in the game to seal the victory for the home side by scoring its third goal of the evening in the dying moments of the match. Atlético Madrid’s backline was clearly exhausted and had given up at this point, allowing the Brazilian forward to cruise into the penalty box with ease, before nutmegging the last defender to score.
The victory meant all four semifinalists of this year’s Copa del Rey will feature teams from the first tier of Spanish football leagues, the La Liga, and three of those four teams are among the top three most successful clubs in the history of the competition.
Copa del Rey semifinalists:
▪️ 31-time winners (most)
▪️ 23-time winners (second most)
▪️ 19-time winners (third most)
▪️ Have never won pic.twitter.com/0KvdDsIfWZ
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 26, 2023
Simeone to Leave Atlético?
Rumours had been speculated that Colchoneros’ long-time head coach will leave the team at the end of the season after another trophyless season, but the 52-year-old Buenos Aires-born Simeone bashed away the hearsay and reiterated that he is happy at the club, stated that “I am enormously happy to be at Atletico. [I have been] from the day I arrived. I am going to give everything I have until I leave. I will give myself a thousand per cent with this team and with the club. Now, I only have [it] in my head to work with joy and enthusiasm. I have done that from the day I arrived [and I will do so] until the day [that] I have to go. That will come some day [but not now].”
Atlético will turn its attention to a trip to Osasuna for a La Liga fixture next, while elsewhere in England, Premier League giant Manchester City is welcoming the current league leader Arsenal in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup this weekend.