Dani Ceballos played the hero as he scored the winning goal to complete Real Madrid’s 3-2 comeback against Villarreal in the Copa del Rey round of 16 match.
A scenario many would have deemed unlikely not only because it was Ceballos but because of how the opening 45 minutes played out.
Villarreal got out to a 1-0 lead after only four minutes thanks to Etienne Capoue. The Yellow Submarine doubled their advantage as Samuel Chukwueze tucked the ball home after a pass from Gerard Moreno, finishing off a clinical Villarreal counter.
Villarreal went into the break leading by two and it looked like they were on their way to their second consecutive win over Real Madrid and plunging them further into the abyss.
But then Dani Ceballos was brought on early in the second half.
It is by no means an exaggeration to say Ceballos almost single-handedly changed the outcome as he played a role in all three goals. He delivered the assist for both Vinicius Jr. in the first and for Eder Militao who picked up the rebound from a Karim Benzema header. Ceballos then scored the winner in the 86th minute to put Real Madrid through to the next round.
The win was desperately needed to calm things down a bit. Especially with how things went in the first half.
“I was annoyed, very annoyed,” Carlo Ancelotti said. “They went ahead early, we took risks, they play the ball out well from the back, we weren’t decisive in the duels.
“I told the team to wake up. They woke up well. It’s the first half and the second, the first wasn’t good, we can’t play like that. But the reaction was spectacular, you never give up with this badge. But we can’t get close to the bottom before reacting, that isn’t good.”
Real Madrid cannot afford a let down as they return to action in LaLiga as they travel to take on Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.