|Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo jumps to head the ball during a Spanish Copa del Rey soccer match between Real Madrid and Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Thursday. (AP-Yonhap News)|
MADRID (AP) ― Real Madrid overcame some uncharacteristic poor finishing from Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Osasuna 2-0 in the opening leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 match on Thursday.
Ronaldo failed to connect on an ample number of opportunities at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. But Karim Benzema and Jese Rodriguez scored in each half for Madrid to come out of the first leg with the firm advantage.
Benzema got up to head home Luka Modric’s free kick in the 19th minute before combining with Ronaldo to find Jese, who fired a rising shot past goalkeeper Asier Riesgo on the hour mark.
Also, Real Sociedad and Villarreal, and Rayo Vallecano and Levante played out scoreless draws.
One night after Lionel Messi marked his return from a two-month injury layoff with two goals in Barcelona’s 4-0 win against Getafe, Ronaldo looked more like the Spanish league star who had been out.
Madrid struck soon after Jese looked to have provoked a penalty from Riesgo, and the opener freed up more space for Madrid’s attack with Gareth Bale also dangerous providing crosses from the right side.
While Riesgo did deny Ronaldo in the 35th, the Portugal international headed high over goal moments after Benzema also headed wide from inside the box.
Modric orchestrated much of Madrid’s attack with Xabi Alonso sitting out to injury, the Croatia midfielder spotting Benzema’s and Ronaldo’s streaking runs into the area only for both forwards to miss.
Bale crossed to Ronaldo in the 58th but he failed to control well and Riesgo was able to catch his softly tapped volley.
While Ronaldo did well to turn provider for Jese as Madrid capitalized on an Osasuna turnover, the Ballon d’Or hopeful was hanging from the crossbar and screaming in frustration following a wide free kick wide by tapping another volleyed chance wide in the 61st.
Ronaldo’s desperation to score saw him rise high above Benzema in the 62nd only to collapse onto the France striker, sending the two of them barreling to the ground with another effort wasted.
Osasuna had only one scoring opportunity, just before the half, but Oier Sanjuro somehow mishit from inside the area with time and the right side of goal beckoning.
In other round of 16, first-leg matches, it was: Valencia 1, Atletico Madrid 1; Racing Santander 1, Almeria 1; Alcorcon 1, Espanyol 0; Real Betis 1, Athletic Bilbao 0.