Real Madrid came from two goals down to beat Villarreal 3-2 in the Copa del Rey last 16 on Thursday thanks to a brilliant second-half performance by substitute Dani Ceballos.
The 26-year-old midfielder delivered an assist for Madrid’s first goal, created the opening for the second and scored the winner for the visitors who looked to be on the brink of elimination when they trailed 2-0 at half-time.
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“I was annoyed, very annoyed,” Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said. “They went ahead early, we took risks, they played the ball out well from the back, we weren’t decisive in the duels.
“I told the team to wake up. They woke up well. It’s the first half and the second, the first wasn’t good, we can’t play like that. But the reaction was spectacular, you never give up with this badge . But we can’t get close to the bottom before reacting, that isn’t good.”
Villarreal moved quickly into the lead with an Etienne Capoue strike in the fourth minute and extended their lead in the 41st with Samuel Chukwueze.
But Ceballos came off the bench in the 56th minute to play a pivotal role in all of Real Madrid’s goals.
One minute after coming on, he assisted Vinicius Jr who scored with a point-blank shot.
Twelve minutes later he crossed to Karim Benzema whose towering header was denied by Filip Jorgensen but allowed Eder Militao to score from the rebound. In the 86th minute Ceballos slotted a perfect low shot from just inside the box to give Real Madrid the win.