Real Madrid strolled into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey and moved within one victory of the all-time Spanish record for consecutive wins by beating Cornellà 5-0 at the Bernabeu to progress 9-1 on aggregate. A brace from James Rodriguez and another from the equally superb Isco in the first half and an own goal from Borja Lopez and a strike for the returning Jesé Rodríguez in the second did the damage for the holders. And it means that Real Madrid have now won an incredible 17 matches on the bounce, one behind the record set by Frank Rijkard’s Barcelona team in the 2005-06 season.
Victory against their Segunda Division B opponents had already been put beyond doubt courtesy of a 4-1 first-leg win at the end of October. Duly, with a busy run of fixtures upcoming in December, including the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, coach Carlo Ancelotti rang the changes to his squad. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos were absent, with 20-year-old Alvaro Medran, making his first start for the club, among those given a chance to impress.
Instead, just like in Catalonia, Cornellà provided Madrid with an early scare. Inside 15 minutes the third-tier outfit hushed the Bernabeu support when they won a penalty courtesy of Alvaro Arbeloa’s clumsy tackle on Xavi Boniquet. But the Cornellà midfielder failed to capitalize on the glorious chance for a moment he’d never forget at one of soccer’s most famous arenas and skied his spot-kick high over Keylor Navas’s crossbar.
Even more painful for Boniquet, his side were immediately punished for his profligacy. Just a minute later, Isco was found in a pocket of space in front of the back four and laid a perfect pass through for Rodriguez, who was given the benefit of the doubt with the offside flag and produced a silky dinked finish.
Madrid had now found their groove and they quickly started to overwhelm their opponents. Only moments after Fabio Coentrao failed to make the most of an opportunity, Rodriguez returned the favor for Isco to get on the score sheet. Having turned into space on halfway, the Colombian split the Cornella defense wide open with one brilliantly precise pass to leave Isco to find the net with a cool, scooped effort. Two minutes later the score was 3-0, with Madrid’s influential dup again to the fore. Isco provided the incisive pass toward the edge of the box that Javier Hernandez cleverly flicked off for Rodriguez to curl a sublime finish into the far corner.
Given precious few opportunities in the first team since arriving on loan from Manchester United, Hernandez will have been desperate to get a goal of his own. And he came about as close as possible, as Madrid got their fourth on the hour mark. From Alvaro Arbeloa’s pass down the side of the box, the Mexican lofted the ball skillfully over Cornellà's goalkeeper but was unlucky to see it come back off the crossbar, only for it to deflect into the net off the even more unfortunate defender Lopez. The only thing missing from a comfortable evening was a moment to mark the return of Jesé . The 21-year-old forward had made a sizable impression on the first team before his breakthrough season was halted by a serious injury in March. But 20 minutes after coming on he gave hint that he could once again be ready to pressurize some of his expensively acquired teammates for a starting berth after taking Isco’s pass and drilling a low shot into the far corner.