Real Madrid confirmed their safe passage through to the Copa del Rey semi-finals, cruising to a second leg win at Girona to clinch the tie 7-3 on aggregate

Girona looked like they meant business in the early exchanges, starting the match the stronger of the two sides and hitting the woodwork in the second minute. But, the visitors soon found their feet after the coming through the initial onslaught unscathed, and the chances starting flowing for them.

The breakthrough finally came in the 27th minute, as Karim Benzema exchanged a one-two with Dani Carvajal before curling the ball around the stranded Gorka Iraizoz with his left foot. The Frenchman then doubled his and Real Madrid’s tally two minutes from half-time.

This time, Benzema combined with Vinicius Junior on the left side of the Girona box before curling in his effort with his right foot. Real Madrid ought to have made it three midway through the second half only to see Iraizoz save splendidly from Marco Asensio’s effort, before Lucas Vazquez smashed the rebound into the post.

Girona then pulled a goal back, which was only a consolation goal in the end, through Pedro Porro, who scored for the first time for the Catalans. But, Real Madrid had the final laugh as Marcos Llorente finished a terrific driving run with a thumping effort to make it 3-1 five minutes later.

The result meant Real Madrid clinched the tie 7-3 on aggregate, reaching the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey for the first time since 2014. Los Blancos have now joined Real Betis, Valencia and holder Barcelona in the penultimate stage of the competition and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Santiago Solari’s men.

Keylor Navas: 7/10

Solid on return. (Photo by Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images)

Solid on return. (Photo by Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images)

Not the easiest of returns to action for Navas, who almost conceded in the second minute when he misjudged a free-kick. The custodian recovered thereafter, making a string of saves to ensure his side’s aggregate lead, most notable of them being a fine reflex stop to deny Christhian Stuani. Could have done very little to thwart Pedro Porro, having come off his line quickly.

Dani Carvajal: 7/10

Appearing for the first time in the Copa del Rey this season, Carvajal produced a professional performance, getting into the act early on with a crucial block. On the other end, the Spaniard was a constant threat, and made a telling impact in the game by exchanging a one-two with Benzema for the Frenchman’s first goal.

Raphael Varane: 8/10

Sent off in the last match, Varane wasn’t exactly coming into Thursday’s match in top form. But, at Estadi Montilivi, barely anything went past the Frenchman, who was dominant in the air as well as on the ground. Tried his best to avert crisis for the Girona goal, but he was sucked out of position by his marker.

Sergio Ramos: 6.5/10

The Real warrior. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

The Real warrior. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Starting Ramos was a slightly perplexing decision, even though Solari had confirmed during his pre-match press conference that the Real Madrid captain was fit and available. Ramos did look a little off pace early on before finding his feet.

But, the Spaniard was barely troubled after the early troubles, as he worked in tandem to snuff out the danger. Taken off midway through the second half for some much needed rest.

Marcelo: 7/10

The usual pattern ensued as far as the left-back slot is concerned, with Marcelo starting on Thursday. The Brazilian defender was generally quite solid apart from the instance he was caught out of position for the Girona goal.

Step in the right direction. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )

Step in the right direction. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )

On the other end, he was at his best, linking up with Vinicius Jr. splendidly and he also never shied away from taking aim at goal. A positive outing considering his recent struggles.

Dani Ceballos: 6/10

Ceballos is a player who has been needing opportunities to prove himself. On Thursday, however, he did not take one that came his way, proving to be wasteful with the ball while only displaying his driving runs in bits and pieces. One of the instances of his sloppiness on the ball led to Porro’s goal, as he lost the ball before Girona embarked on the counter.

Marcos Llorente: 9/10

Back into the starting lineup for the first time since his injury layoff, Llorente looked like he had not missed a single step. The young Spaniard was in his elements in the middle of the park, negating all the danger in central areas while opening up play superbly with his long balls.

Back in action and in some style. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )

Back in action and in some style. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )

His goal was a thing of beauty as well. Llorente collected the ball from Ceballos before unleashing a brilliant run that ended with his driving effort slotting into the bottom left corner. His battle with Casemiro will leave Solari and Real Madrid fans excited.

Toni Kroos: 7/10

This was a game that saw Kroos showcasing his brilliance. Despite playing well within himself for much of the game, the German playmaker pulled the strings effortlessly, and let the front-men do their work. Makes the Real Madrid midfield much stronger than it is without him, making him an indispensable member of the squad.

Lucas Vazquez: 6/10

Lucas Vazquez has been one of the form players for Real Madrid during their resurgent run. But, the Spanish international was far from his best on Thursday, as he killed off moves by losing the ball in dangerous positions quite a few times. Never quite looked like scoring on the night either and with Gareth Bale now fully fit, his place could be under threat.

Karim Benzema: 9/10

Real Madrid keep on getting linked with strikers. But, Karim Benzema keeps on doing his best to put an end to the rumours. After a first half brace in the game against Espanyol, the Frenchman returned with a brace against Girona as well, making it five goals in his last three games and 17 for the season.

Has truly been unleashed since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and is quite easily the favourite to be the Player of the Season for Real Madrid. As far as his performance is concerned, his link-ups with Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior are starting to become a thing of beauty, something reminiscent of that shared by Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba at Barcelona.

Vinicius Junior: 7.5/10

A somewhat subdued performance by Vinicius going by his recent standards. But, the Brazilian did not need to exert himself, in hindsight. The fact that he never got out of second gear might be beneficial in the long run, with games coming thick and fast. Nevertheless, he got an assist for himself after creating the space for Benzema for his side’s second goal.


Marco Asensio: 7/10

Looked like a man on a mission after coming on for Benzema. Almost got in on the act himself, only to see his shot being saved by Iraizoz. A positive cameo nonetheless, and fans would now want to see the young Spaniard get back to his best.

Nacho: 6/10

Replaced Ramos adequately, reading the game well. But, was one of the guilty parties for the Girona goal after being caught out during the counter-attack.

Gareth Bale: 6/10

On for Vinicius, Bale continued a similar pattern as the Brazilian, playing well within himself, with the tie sealed.

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