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Real ravages Melilla in Solari debut

AFP

Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio celebrates a goal during Spanish King’s Cup action against Melilla on Wednesday.

ReutersMADRID (Reuters) — Santiago Solari got off to the perfect start as Real Madrid’s interim coach when his side thrashed Melilla 4-0 in the Spanish King’s Cup on Wednesday.

Holder Barcelona scraped a 1-0 win at third-tier Cultural Leonesa thanks to Clement Lenglet’s late header, while Girona earned a 2-2 draw at Alaves.

Getafe won 2-1 at Cordoba and Valladolid earned a 2-1 away win over Mallorca in other round of 32, first-leg clashes.

In Madrid’s first match since Julen Lopetegui was sacked after a dire run capped by a 5-1 loss to Barcelona on Sunday which left the European champions ninth in La Liga, Solari’s side flexed their muscles against Melilla.

Solari saved the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos the trip to the north coast of Africa and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, but did start with captain Sergio Ramos and striker Karim Benzema against the third division minnows.

Frenchman Benzema, who has struggled for form this season, broke the deadlock from close range after being teed up by Alvaro Odriozola, with Vinicius Junior setting up Marco Asensio for the second.

Brazilian striker Vinicius, largely ignored by Lopetegui, struck the crossbar in search of the third, which was eventually bundled in by Odriozola, another player who struggled to get minutes under Lopetegui.

Substitute Cristo Gonzalez added a fourth in stoppage time to give Solari a convincing debut win.

“The team played with smiles on their faces, they were keen and committed. The final score is a result of that,” Solari said.

“It wasn’t easy, but we worked hard and played with those characteristics. The pitch was heavy and they pressed very high. We have to be happy. The players are committed to the shirt and to the fans who are with them. I’m now a part of this group.”

Record 30-time Cup winner Barcelona was on the back foot against Cultural Leonesa, with goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen making some smart saves to keep Ernesto Valverde’s heavily rotated side level.

Chelsea rides boost from Derby

LONDON (Reuters) — Chelsea reached the League Cup quarterfinals thanks to two own goals in a 3-2 win over second-tier Derby County as Frank Lampard's return to his former club ended in disappointment.

Tottenham Hotspur will join it after Son Heung Min scored twice in a 3-1 win over West Ham United and Arsenal reached the last eight after an uncomfortable 2-1 home victory over third-tier Blackpool in which both teams ended with 10 men.

Second-tier Middlesbrough also reached the next round with a 1-0 win over Premier League Crystal Palace as manager Tony Pulis got one over his former club thanks to a thunderbolt finish from Lewis Wing.Speech

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