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Real Madrid red-faced after draw at Olimpic Ighalo nets 2 in Granada win

MADRID, Dec 8, (Agencies): Real Madrid badly missed the firepower of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale as they were held 0-0 away to third tier Olimpic Xativa in the first-leg of their Copa del Rey fourth round tie on Saturday. With Ronaldo suspended following his red card in last year’s final defeat to Atletico Madrid and Bale left in the Spanish capital due to the flu, Real boss Carlo Ancelotti handed starts to young forwards Alvaro Morata and Jese Rodriguez. However, the Spanish under-21 duo failed to impress as Real failed to find the net for just the second time this season. And Ancelotti believes the artificial surface at La Murta affected his side’s performance. “The match wasn’t that bad. It is true that the artificial pitch didn’t help us, we are not used to playing on pitches like that,” he said. “We don’t need to be worried about a lack of goals. That is not a problem we normally have.” After a first-half devoid of clear-cut chances, Madrid improved markedly after the break as Isco and Morata both wastefully fired wide when presented with good sights of goal. Angel di Maria then showed his displeasure at Ancelotti as he stormed down the tunnel when being replaced by Karim Benzema just before the hour mark.

However, even the French international couldn’t find the breakthrough as he flashed a shot just wide with his best opening 11 minutes from time. Madrid will though still be heavy favourites to progress when the two sides meet again for the second-leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on December 18. Atletico Madrid began their defence of the title with an comfortable 4-0 win away to Sant Andreu. Goals from Raul Garcia and David Villa either side of an Arda Turan double mean that Atletico can already start planning for the last 16 in January. “The commitment of the team was very good,” said a satisfied Atletico boss Diego Simeone. “We handled the game very well and the result is obviously a very good one. Meanwhile, Odion Ighalo scored two goals to guide Granada to a 2-0 win at second-division Alcorcon on Sunday, giving the topflight side a commanding lead in its round-of-32 Copa del Rey tie.

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