Real Madrid put one foot in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey following a 1-0 win victory over Leganes in the first leg of the quarterfinals on Thursday night.
With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Marcelo rested, the squad was much changed but were equal to the task as Marco Asensio’s late strike gave the club a first win on four matches.
Real had the better chances in the first half as Raphael Varane headed an opportunity over the bar and Mateo Kovacic fired wide with only goalkeeper Nereo Champagne to beat.
Leaganes also had opportunities, Real Madrid defender Marcos Llorente almost gifting them the lead with his header which bounced off the crossbar before Claudio Beauvue saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
The match seemed destined for a draw until the 89th minute when Asensio Asensio scored with a volley inside the penalty area after Theo Hernandez’s cross from the left wing.
The much-needed victory provided relief for Los Blancos manager Zinedine Zidane, who hopes that it can be the start of a turnaround from recent slump in form.
‘This is a long season, we have to get the winning feeling back and not concede,’ Zidane said. ‘We cannot say that we played a great game but we got an important result in a knockout round.
‘Hopefully we can be back to normal, by scoring and not conceding, soon.
‘We played a serious game and the result is very good for us. It’s true that it cost us to find our normal play, but in the second half we were better and scored.
‘I liked the delivery and we defended well, there was a lot of balance.’
Real host Leganes in the second leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, 24 January.