Real Madrid celebrated the first anniversary of Zinedine Zidane’s appointment in style, as James Rodriguez netted twice in a 3-0 Copa del Rey dismantling of Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Zidane has enjoyed a wonderful 12 months in charge of the European champions and his impact showed no sign of subsiding on Wednesday, with Sevilla on the end of a battering in what was predicted to be a tough Copa last-16 first leg for injury-ravaged Madrid.
The rested Cristiano Ronaldo along with the injured Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos were just three of those missing, but their absence was not felt as Madrid ran Sevilla ragged right from the beginning – James breaking the deadlock early on with a fine goal which encapsulated the hosts’ quick start.
The match settled down but Zidane’s men remained in complete control and added a second through Raphael Varane, before James’ doubled his tally by converting a dubious penalty.
Madrid appeared to ease off slightly in the second half, though Sevilla looked no more threatening as the home side kept things tight and disciplined at the back.
In the end, Madrid had no difficulty cruising to victory and taking their unbeaten run to 38 matches in all competitions, but Sevilla will not have to wait long for revenge as the two sides go head-to-head in the second leg and in La Liga over the next 11 days.
Sevilla looked to be in for a gruelling encounter right from the start and Madrid’s intense pressing was crucial to their early goal.
Gabriel Mercado sold Steven N’Zonzi short and Casemiro was on him in a flash, prodding the ball into space for James to pounce before bending a crisp finish into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards.