Real Madrid cruised to an emphatic 3-0 win over Sevilla to all but kill the last 16 tie in the Copa Del Rey before traveling to Andalusia to play out the second leg next Thursday evening.
James Rodriguez scored twice as Real Madrid made it an incredible 38 games unbeaten.
First he scored from distance after Casemiro had robbed possession before playing him in. Just before half-time he rolled in from 12-yards after the hosts were given an extremely fortunate penalty.
Between the two strikes from the 25-year-old, Raphael Varane climbed above Sevilla’s defense to head in the second as Madrid all-but assured their passage into the quarter-finals.
It’s now four goals and eight assists for James despite the fact that he has struggled for minutes so far this season.
James Rodriguez has now been directly involved in 62 goals in 95 games across all competitions for Real Madrid.
28 goals pic.twitter.com/fTwSdsyMkW
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 4, 2017
Sevilla missed several chances to get back into the game before the break with Vitolo and Joaquín Correa guilty of misses and they were hard done by for the penalty that ended the game as a contest.
Luka Modric seemed to have been pushed by Mariano but he in turn had been pushed by Rodriguez. Referee Mateu Lahoz pointed to the spot. The erratic man in the middle had also booked four players in the first period.
Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro said after the win: ‘We know the job is not completely done because they will really push us at their home.’
Asked if the team were especially determined not to repeat their mid-season collapse of two years ago when they returned from having been crowned World Club Champions but lost their first game of the year to Valencia, he added:
‘We know every time we put the shirt on we have to win the game.’
A despondent Vitolo said: ‘We made a mistake no sooner than the game started and it was difficult from there. It will be difficult to turn it around now but we have to try because anything can happen in 90 minutes.’
It looks an impossible task and there looks no stopping Real Madrid who are one more unbeaten game away from equalling a record of 39 games undefeated that was set by bitter rivals Barcelona.
The victory was also a fine way for Zinedine Zidane to celebrate exactly one year as Real Madrid coach.
On this day in 2016, Zinedine Zidane took over as Real Madrid manager
Since then: 53 games, 41 wins, 10 draws, 2 defeats,3 titles
Not bad! pic.twitter.com/l8SOV2lK6b
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 5, 2017
In 365 days he has guided Los Blancos to three trophies and only two defeats. The winning run goes on, Ronaldo is no longer missed when he doesn’t play and even James Rodriguez is happy.