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Unionistas 1-3 Real Madrid: Gareth Bale nets first goal since September 1 before Brahim Diaz’s two late strikes secures hard-fought win in Copa Del Rey

Alvaro Romero scored one of the solo goals of the season against Real Madrid, and little Unionistas de Salamanca were in dreamland on the hour mark of this Copa del Rey culture clash.

Madrid, thanks to Gareth Bale, a Juan Gongora own goal and Brahim Diaz’s late individual effort, eventually won 3-1 at the tiny Las Pistas stadium, where 4,000 supporters of a club that has only existed since 2013 saw their side go head to head with the 13-time European champions.

Yet Romero’s stunning effort after 57 minutes will live far longer in the memory than the goals that won the day for Madrid.

The substitute had been on the field barely a minute when he ran from just inside Madrid’s half to the edge of the penalty area before curling a fine left-footed finish out of the reach of Alphonse Areola.

That brought Unionistas level, following Bale’s first-half effort, but parity was all too brief, with the 62nd-minute own goal and Diaz’s neat stoppage-time finish deciding the day, the Segunda B minnows just edged out by their millionaire visitors.

Brahim joined Real Madrid in January 2019 for 17m euros but has failed to start a single league game this season. Getafe are keen to take him on loan but he wants to stay at Madrid believing if he only stars in Madrid’s cup run it will do him more good than a spell elsewhere.

He didn’t make the starting line-up in this game but made the most of his time when he came on.

First Bale showed his class with the opening goal but a distinctly muted celebration suggested he was far from happy.

He took the ball on his chest in the area midway through the first half and volleyed it past Brais Pereiro in the home team’s goal but he needed to be cajoled into any sort of celebration by team-mates.

Midfielder Casemiro embraced him after his goal but there was barely a smile from the Welshman who eventually went off seven minutes into the second half.

The 23-year-old left winger carried the ball from the half way line to the edge of the area and with Militao, Nacho and Dani Carvajal all back-pedaling he shot past Areola from just inside the penalty area.

Brahim’s quick response meant the Unionistas’ celebrations were short-lived. It was the strangest of finishes with the former Manchester City man stumbling over the cross but somehow sending it past Pereiro.

They almost equalized again with 11 minutes left. A corner from left dropped on Carlos de la Nava’s foot. He tried to guide it past Areola but the French keeper saved brilliantly on his line. James was taken off as Madrid wobbled. The Colombian looked less than pleased by the change.

Luka Jovic also came on replacing Benzema but his luck in front of goal has still not changed. He missed clear cut chance following in a rebound from a Vinicius shot.

Brahim continued to be the brightest spark for Madrid and he eventually got the third with a fun run and shot cutting in from the right wing. The goals will mean some teams redouble efforts to take him on loan but they may also stiffen his resolve to stay. 

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