Eden Hazard ends goal drought as Real Madrid beat Elche in Copa del Rey

Belgian scores first goal in eight months as Ancelotti's side fight back to win after extra time

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Eden Hazard scored his first goal in eight months as Real Madrid fought back from a goal down to beat Elche and seal their spot in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Madrid needed extra-time to win 2-1 at the Martinez Valero and were given a scare by Elche, whose Gonzalo Verdu gave them the lead in the 103rd minute, moments after Marcelo had been sent off for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Yet Madrid came storming back, with Isco prodding in Dani Ceballos' shot before Hazard rounded the goalkeeper to score an 115th-minute winner.

Ancelotti praised Isco and Hazard who both came off the substitutes' bench in extra-time. “I'm very happy for them. They haven't had many minutes. Today we needed them, we knew it could be a long game. And they won the game for us,” Ancelotti said.

“I know I can count on them. I have a group of players that has everything. They never give up, have an extraordinary character.”

Ancelotti also expressed his frustration at the fixture schedule that has seen Real play three knockout games in eight days.

Real had to travel to Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Super Cup, which they won by beating Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

“What do you want me to say? There is a calendar which is absolute nonsense,” Ancelotti said. “It is inevitable that it has to change, I hope those who do it wake up and make a calendar that is fairer.

“I think it was the game that gave me the most joy to win this season because the team showed a lot of character, a lot of strength.

“You can talk about the difficulties, but you have to highlight the character of this team.”

The victory sends Real Madrid into the quarter-finals, where they join Real Sociedad, Mallorca, Rayo Vallecano, Cadiz, Valencia and Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao — who defeated Barcelona on Thursday.

A minute of silence was observed before the match in memory of Paco Gento, who died aged 88 on Tuesday. Gento played in all five of Real Madrid's successive European Cup triumphs between 1956 and 1960.

Elche should have taken an early lead but Guido Carillo was guilty of one of the misses of the season. He looked certain to score from a yard out but, off balance, skewed his finish on to the crossbar.

The game became stretched in the second half but neither side could break the deadlock.

Hazard and Ceballos were introduced for extra-time, the Belgian replacing Rodrygo. Casemiro shot wide after Vinicius Junior capitalised on a sloppy pass but it was Elche who made the breakthrough.

Madrid were caught upfield and the ball was slid through for Guido, who nicked it away from Marcelo and drew a touch from the defender as he squeezed through. Marcelo was the last man and was sent off.

The punishment was doubled as Verdu struck the resulting free-kick into the wall before banging the rebound back towards goal. The ball darted off the foot of Ceballos, wrong-footing goalkeeper Andriy Lunin and spinning into the corner.

Madrid, though, refused to give up. Luka Modric and Casemiro were quickening the pace and it was the latter's pass that set up the equaliser, Ceballos shooting from the pull-back and this time it was Isco who was in the right place to divert home.

Now the visitors, even with 10 men, found an extra gear. David Alaba's curling pass sent Hazard in behind the defence and he took one touch to skip round goalkeeper Axel Werner outside the penalty area before finishing superbly from a tight angle.

Elche thought they had another at the end when Fidel drove in at the back post, but Verdu was adjudged to have hauled down Nacho Fernandez. Pera Milla was sent off for his protests.

Updated: January 21, 2022, 8:17 AM
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