Real Madrid ends winless run with late Asensio goal in Copa del Rey

Real Madrid's Marco Asensio. (Francisco Seco/AP)

MADRID — Real Madrid took a small step toward ending its crisis by defeating Leganes 1-0 with an 89th-minute goal by Marco Asensio in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Thursday.

Madrid’s reserve team gave another lacklustre performance, but Asensio salvaged the victory with a close-range shot into the top corner after a well-placed cross by Theo Hernandez.

The result ended Madrid’s three-match winless streak and eased some of the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane after poor results.

The second leg is next week at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

It was an open match at Butarque Stadium just outside of Madrid. Leganes hit the woodwork in the second half, and Madrid finally broke the deadlock when Asensio beat a defender to Hernandez’s cross from the left side.

Despite Madrid’s struggles, Zidane did not use his main squad, resting Cristiano Ronaldo and others for the Spanish league game at Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday. Right back Dani Carvajal and central defender Raphael Varane were the only regular starters to begin Thursday’s game. Luka Modric and Isco entered the match in the second half.

On Wednesday, Lionel Messi missed a penalty kick and three-time defending Copa del Rey champion Barcelona lost at Espanyol 1-0, while Sevilla came from behind to defeat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in Madrid. Valencia rallied at home to defeat last year’s runner-up Alaves 2-1. The return matches are next week.

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