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Lacklustre Madrid reach Copa quarter-finals despite loss to Leganes

Lacklustre Madrid reach Copa quarter-finals despite loss to Leganes
Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - Round of 16 - Second Leg - Leganes v Real Madrid - Butarque Municipal Stadium, Leganes, Spain - January 16, 2019 Leganes' Martin Braithwaite scores their first goal REUTERS/Javier Barbancho   -   Copyright  JAVIER BARBANCHO(Reuters)
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MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid limped into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, losing 1-0 at Leganes with an another lacklustre performance yet advancing 3-1 on aggregate.

Danish forward Martin Braithwaite struck the only goal of the game on the half hour mark, knocking into an empty net from close range following a goalmouth scramble after the Middlesbrough loanee had headed against the post.

Leganes kept pushing for a second goal that would have put them back in contention in the tie but were repeatedly thwarted by Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas and their own inability to hit the target.

Madrid teenager Brahim Diaz missed a glaring chance late in the game to score his first goal for the European champions since signing from Manchester City, taking too long to get his shot away after being played in by Vinicius Jr. and striking the near post.

Real coach Santiago Solari recalled out-of-favour midfielder Isco to the starting lineup as well as Brazilian Marcelo, who was also left out of Sunday’s scrappy 2-1 win at Real Betis in La Liga, but rested most of his usual starters.

Isco appeared to be lacking in confidence and spurned Real’s best opportunity of a first half in which Madrid were out-run and out-fought by Leganes, who lacked the killer instinct in attack they needed to turn the tie around.

Solari, who fell to a fourth defeat in all competitions since replacing sacked Julen Lopetegui at the end of October, did not hide his feelings about his team’s display.

“It was a weak performance, above all in the first half,” he said.

“We made it through to the next round, some players who needed to play got their opportunity, but we did not play well.”

Defender Nacho added: “We would have liked to have won the game but we got through and that’s the most important thing.

“It seems easy when you have a big lead from the first leg but sometimes you relax, you have too much confidence and you don’t give 100 percent.”

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)

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