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Real Madrid’s Pepe (left), in action with Osasuna’s Oriol Riera (right), during a Spanish Copa del Rey soccer match between Real Madrid and Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid
Real Madrid ease towards Cup quarters with Osasuna victory Benzema, Jese on target

MADRID, Jan 10, (AFP): Real Madrid took a huge step towards the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey with a 2-0 win over Osasuna in the first leg of their last 16 tie. Karim Benzema got the hosts off to the perfect start when he headed in Luka Modric’s cross after 19 minutes. Jese Rodriguez then gave Madrid breathing space in the tie when he chipped home Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass after half-time. And Madrid were only denied a third in comic circumstances moments later as Ronaldo deflected Gareth Bale’s goalbound effort behind. “Winning 2-0 is a good result. We tried to score the third and we were very close on a few occasions,” said Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti. “The game in Osasuna will not be easy, but it is a good result going forward.”

Ancelotti named a strong side with Bale returning to the starting line-up for the first time in four games following a calf injury. Despite failing to find the net, the Welshman showed flashes of his best form in the second-half and Ancelotti is confident he will go from strength to strength having completed the 90 minutes. “Bale played very well and was very dangerous,” he said.

“Everyone knows he had injury problems and he is a player that needs to be in optimal condition. For that reason he played the whole game. “In the second-half the game was more open and it suited him more, but we are all very happy with him.” Jese was also given a rare chance from the start and he thought he had won his side a penalty on 16 minutes when he went down under a challenge from Osasuna goalkeeper Asier Riesgo. However, after originally pointing to the spot, referee Jesus Perez Montero reversed his decision and harshly booked Jese for diving. Minutes later Madrid were in front as Benzema flicked home Modric’s free-kick to register his 99th goal for the club.

Ronaldo passed up a great chance to double the advantage when he fired straight at Riesgo after a lovely scooped pass from Bale as Madrid began the second-half with more purpose than they ended the first. And the hosts took advantage of some woeful Osasuna defending to make it 2-0 just before the hour mark as Benzema and Ronaldo combined to tee up Jese to loft the ball over Riesgo. That was to be the Spanish international’s last major involvement as he pulled up injured shortly afterwards and was replaced by Isco. Bale should then have had his first goal since November as his goalbound shot from Benzema’s cut-back was deflected behind by Ronaldo. But despite failing to add to their tally Madrid will be strong favourites to set up a quarter-final meeting with Alcorcon or Espanyol when they travel to Pamplona for the second leg next Wednesday.

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