Real Madrid produced a stunning comeback from two goals down to beat Villarreal 3-2 on Thursday and book their place in the Spanish Cup quarter-finals.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side will hope the victory is a turning point after struggling in 2023. They were soundly beaten by rivals Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final last Sunday.
Los Blancos seemed poised to suffer cup elimination on Thursday, after Etienne Capoue and Samuel Chukwueze struck in the first half for the hosts.
However goals by Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao and Dani Ceballos after the break turned the last-16 clash on its head and sent Madrid, who last won the trophy in 2014, through.
Villarreal, who impressed while beating Madrid in La Liga earlier in January, started brilliantly, Capoue lashing home a stunning strike from Gerard Moreno’s flick into his path.
Quique Setien’s side had won six of their last seven games and drawn the other and they played with confidence in the first half.
By contrast, Madrid looked chastened after their recent results and the early goal conceded.
The hosts doubled their lead at the Estadio de la Ceramica just before half-time, with Chukwueze providing the finishing touch to a flowing team move.
Ancelotti responded by bringing on Ceballos and Marco Asensio and the changes paid instant dividends.
Ceballos set up Vinicius to pull the first back for Madrid and it put the wind in their sails.
Asensio drilled a low free-kick under the wall but Filip Jorgensen was equal to it as Los Blancos strained for the equaliser.
The Danish stopper then parried Karim Benzema’s header moments later, but Militao pounced on the rebound to level.
With the clock ticking towards extra-time Ceballos struck with a low effort from the edge of the box, set up by Asensio, to complete the rescue mission.
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