Substitutes Marco Asensio and Isco ensured Real Madrid avoided more Copa del Rey embarrassment against Alcoyano as the LaLiga leaders battled to a 3-1 victory in the round-of-32 tie.
Madrid were on the end of one of the greatest shocks in Spanish football history 12 months ago when losing to the same third-tier opponents at Estadio El Collao.
Alcoyano eliminated LaLiga’s bottom side Levante in the last round and started strongly against Madrid, with Dani Vega testing stand-in keeper Andriy Lunin early on.
Eduardo Camavinga blocked a goal-bound shot soon after and the lively Vega had a penalty appeal turned down after being sent to the ground by Militao.
The game soon settled down and Madrid edged in front from their first attempt on target, Militao getting in front of Jose Juan to head in Rodrygo’s corner.
Madrid never looked truly settled and Vega levelled up the game after driving into the box, cutting back inside past the chasing Casemiro and curling a shot away from Lunin.
But the visitors, whose 15-match unbeaten run was ended by Getafe last weekend, soon woke up and were back in front when Asensio’s shot from the edge of the area, set up by Eden Hazard, took a big deflection and left Jose Juan wrong-footed.
Fellow substitute Isco thought he had himself got on the scoresheet two minutes later, but it went down as an own goal as the last touch from his prodded effort came off the veteran keeper.
What does it mean? Madrid through after riding their luck – again
Ancelotti made clear that he would not take Alcoyano lightly given what happened to Madrid nearly a year ago to the day during Zinedine Zidane’s time in charge.
Without some of their big-hitters, though, they lacked any sort of fluidity and would have been taken to extra-time if not for the intervention of substitutes Asensio and Isco.
Los Blancos scored from all three of their attempts on target, completely outperforming their expected goals (xG) return of 1.18, and they can now look ahead to a place in the last 16 in their pursuit of a first Copa del Rey triumph since 2013-14.
A trademark Eder
Militao has now scored three goals in 67 appearances for Madrid in all competitions, each of those coming via a header from a corner and two of them against Alcoyano.
It means the centre-back has scored more goals at El Collao than he has at every other ground he has played at combined during his time in Spanish football.
Front three fail to deliver
Rodrygo, Mariano Diaz and Hazard were given a chance to impress for Madrid, but all three failed to make the most of the opportunity, even if the latter did tee up Asensio for the visitors’ second goal.
Asensio showed them how it is done by tucking it away, albeit with a stroke of fortune, as he became the first Madrid player to score in three different competitions this season – in the Champions League, LaLiga and now the Copa del Rey.
Madrid return to LaLiga action with a home match against Valencia on Saturday, the same day that Alcoyano take on Castellon