Melilla 0-4 Real Madrid: Interim boss Santiago Solari steadies the ship with first leg Copa del Rey victory against minnows as 18-year-old Vinicius Junior shines in north Africa
- Karim Benzema broke the deadlock to put Real Madrid in front after converting Alvaro Odriozola’s delivery
- Vinicius Junior found Marco Asensio with assist for second goal as Spaniard blasted his effort into the corner
- Odriozola then scored his first goal for the club after poking home the ball following a goal-mouth scramble
- At the death the visitors made it four as youngster Cristo Gonzalez nodded in the fourth to add gloss to score
- Victory handed Santiago Solari victory in his first game as interim manager after Julen Lopetegui’s sacking
Real Madrid caretaker coach Santiago Solari made good on his promise to get the team playing ‘with balls’ again, and he unleashed 18-year-old Vinicius Junior in an impressive 4-0 win over Melilla in the Spanish Cup.
Madrid turned in a spirited performance in the North African Spanish enclave to beat third tier opponents in the last-32 first-leg Copa del Rey match.
In driving rain and with the side on a run of one point in five games in La Liga, Madrid were ripe to be cup giant-killing victims but they won the first leg and although he did not score, Vinicius was the star.
Marco Asensio slotted the second goal of the game for Real Madrid as they took control on the stroke of half-time
The Spanish giants came up against some solid resistance but eventually their hard work paid off just before the break
Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (centre) provided the assist for Asensio to blast his shot into the corner
UD Melilla XI:
Dani Barrio, Sofian, Juanmi Carrión, Richi, Mahanan, Alfonso, Igor Martínez, Lolo Garrido, Yacine, Otegui, Ruano
Real Madrid XI:
Navas, Odriozola, Javi Sanchez, Ramos, Reguilon, Ceballos, Llorente, Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius
Bookings: Sanchez, Vazquez
Goals: Benzema (28), Asensio (45), Odriozola (78), Cristo Gonzalez (90+2)
Solari has just two weeks to prove he, and not Roberto Martinez, is the right man to take this job full time, because Spanish Federation rules mean Madrid can only have a temporary coach for a period of 14 days.
But if his remit includes blooding Vinicius and reviving Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema, who both scored, then this was an excellent start.
Vinicius played the pass of the night with the outside of his boot through the legs of a Melilla defender to set up Asensio for the first. Asensio played the first half behind Benzema and the second half as the centre-forward after the Frenchman was taken off.
Benzema scored the first from Alvaro Odriozola’s cross. Madrid were direct and full of energy and Lucas Vazquez could and should have scored two more first half goals. Twice Dani Barrio saved from the winger first pushing over a long shot and then blocking another effort at the near post.
In the second half there was more evidence of Vinicius’ talent as the Brazilian signed from Flamengo in the summer for 45m euros cracked a shot on to the bar.
Watching him terrorize albeit third tier defenders made a mockery of sacked coach Julen Lopetegui’s refusal to give the youngster a chance.
At the weekend Vinicius was prevented from playing with the B-team but then sent to the stands to watch the first team against Barcelona as Lopetegui refused to name him on the bench.
Alvaro Odriozola scored his first goal for Real Madrid to underline an impressive performance in the first leg
Karim Benzema broke the deadlock converting Alvaro Odriozola’s ball in following a superb break from Lucas Vazquez
Vinicius was the danger man for Real and caused the defence plenty of problems with his direct running style
Real Madrid looked comfortable throughout this match with Keylor Navas back in goal as the club’s official cup keeper, and with Sergio Ramos and Nacho playing a half each as Madrid protect their dwindling supply of centre-backs (both Raphael Varane and Jesus Vallejo are injured).
Their third goal summed up the ballsy display. Asensio and Vinicius both tried to bundle the ball over the Melilla line before it was finally buried by Odriozola from one yard out. Youngster Cristo Gonzalez nodded in the fourth with the last chance of the game.
Solari now takes charge of the team against Valladolid in the league at the weekend before travelling to the Czech Republic to face Viktoria Pilsen.
The following weekend they go to Vigo to face Celta and then – during the international break – the club must make a decision.
Solari has made a good start and, in the process, Vinicius has gone from future prospect to part of the remedy for Madrid’s current woes.
Solari (left) guided his players to a much needed victory and passed on instructions on a wet evening
Lucas Vazquez sees his shot saved by the Melilla goalkeeper Dani Barrio from close range in the second half
Asensio attempts to get a toe on the ball before he is clattered by the defender and goalkeeper in a challenge
The performance of the 18-year-old Brazilian stood out as he was given a chance to show his worth by the caretaker boss
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