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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Malaga 0-1 Real Madrid (2-4 Agg)

Malaga 0-1 Real Madrid (2-4 Agg): Horrible error from Caballero allows Benzema to secure last-eight spot for Jose Mourinho's men

A solitary effort from Karim Benzema, after a horrible mistake from Willy Caballero, was enough to earn Real Madrid a 1-0 victory over Malaga at La Rosaleda in the second-leg of the Copa del Rey round of 16 matchup on Tuesday evening. Madrid wins the two-legged tie by a 4-2 aggregate score.

The match began at an intense level as both teams used high lines to furiously pressure each other. Attempting to work around its opposition's high tempo style of play, the away side began to play a possession game and slowly took control of the flow of play.

Los Boquerones soon recovered, led by the bombarding wing-play of Nacho Monreal and Sergio Sanchez. Both struck cross after cross into the Madrid 18-yard box, looking to test Los Merengues' aerial game.

Continuing to run at Jose Mourinho’s men with fluid wing-play, Eliseu Pereira had the home fans on their feet when he beat Fabio Coentrao on the dribble, cut inside and unleashed a rocket from 25-yards which just went wide of the post.

Minutes later, Eliseu blew by Alvaro Arbeloa on the left and found Seba Fernandez in the 18-yard box with a perfect cross. The unmarked forward could only head over the bar, missing a glaring opportunity to put his side ahead.

Against the flow of play, Madrid earned a great chance to open scoring when a Cristiano Ronaldo back-heel isolated Sami Khedira on the left. The Germany international sent a looping effort towards goal which was batted away by Caballero. Khedira not only missed an opportunity to earn an advantage for his side, but also injured himself on the play, forcing a substitution that introduced Mesut Ozil into the game.

The first half ended with the two sides exchanging opportunities. Sergio Ramos directed a free kick just wide of Caballero's post while Eliseu responded with another screamer which Iker Casillas excellently palmed away.

After a dull beginning to the second half, a Lassana Diarra cross from the left found an open Ronaldo who had his near-perfect header from a few yards out majestically saved by Caballero.

Minutes later, Los Blancos looked to have opened scoring through Gonzalo Higuain but the Argentina international was correctly flagged for offside as he was placing the ball into Caballero's net.

After a string of excellent saves, a fatal error by Caballero cost his side the game. On a lightning-quick counterattack, Ozil picked out Benzema on the left. The Frenchman attempted to curl the ball around Caballero but sent it directly at his figure. However, the veteran goalkeeper allowed the ball to pass through his legs and slowly roll into the back of the net, clinching his side's elimination.

The goal effectively ended the match as the demoralized Andalusian side had no answer for Benzema's effort.

With the win, Madrid progresses to the quarterfinals of the competition and will be waiting for Barcelona to progress in order to set up another epic tie between the rivals. Malaga exits the competition and will now focus its attention on securing a spot in next season's Champions League with a strong second half in La Liga.

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