Real Madrid sealed a comfortable victory in their Copa del Rey clash at Cadiz – but could be booted out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player.
Denis Cheryshev had given Rafael Benitez’s side the lead in their 3-1 win at the Ramon de Carranza but the Russia international had a one-game ban credited to his name. The 24-year-old had picked up three yellow cards during the competition for former club Villarreal last season and this was the first opportunity the winger had to serve the accompanying ban.
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He was hauled off moments after halftime as a brace from Isco secured victory for the 19-time Copa del Rey winners, with Kike Marquez scoring a late consolation for the hosts.
“The club had no idea that Cheryshev was ineligible to play,” Benitez said after the match. “The [Royal Spanish Football] Federation did not communicate and Villarreal did not either.
“Nothing was known and when we heard, we substituted him. We found out at halftime and replaced him to show good faith. Apart from that I can only speak of what I have seen in the field. The rest is not for me.”
Cadiz would have to report the situation to the Spanish Football Federation on Thursday and the club’s Twitter feed, @Cadiz_CF, said during the game: “The Board of Directors of @Cadiz_CF will meet at the end of the match.”
Last season Osasuna were kicked out of the tournament for playing an ineligible player as Unai Garcia was selected in the win over Mirandes despite being sent off the previous year. And Benitez was manager of Valencia when they were disqualified from the Copa del Rey having played too many non-EU players during a tie against Novelda in 2001.
”All I can say is that we were not aware of the situation,” Butragueno said. ”We had not received notification from the federation about the sanction, neither did we hear about it from Villarreal.”
On the pitch, after making a string of changes, Benitez saw his side take the lead as early as the third minute as Cheryshev arrowed home a left-footed drive after a smart pass from James Rodriguez. Lolo Pla and Wilson Cuero came close to equalizers for the third-tier outfit as they looked to hit back quickly.
Cheryshev then passed up the chance to add a second with Rodriguez unable to turn home Alvaro Arbeloa’s pass as Madrid went in one ahead at the interval. Mateo Kovacic then came on for Cheryshev just after the start of the second-half but the inclusion of the player in the starting line-up could result in Real’s expulsion from the competition.
Madrid made sure of victory on the night as Isco struck twice, grabbing his first with a well-taken effort on 65 minutes and putting the visitors further ahead nine minutes later after more smart work from Rodriguez. Substitute Marquez reduced the arrears with two minutes remaining but it remains unclear who will advance into the fifth round.