Manager hails Real Madrid's performance in 3-0 first-leg win over city rivals Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu
Madrid: Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes his side produced their best performance of his reign as they downed local rivals Atletico Madrid 3-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday.
Real Madrid's Jese Rodriguez celebrates after scoring against Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday and (Inset) Carlo Ancelotti. Pics/Getty Images
Atletico had won on each of their previous two visits to the Santiago Bernabeu, including in last year's Copa del Rey final, but Ancelotti stressed the improvement his side have made since their defeat to Los Rojiblancos in La Liga back in September.
"I have said before that many things have changed since that match. We are more solid, more natural in our play and more compact," said the Italian. "I think it was (the best performance). Above all because the team we were facing is a very difficult team to play against.
They are very strong and aggressive, so I thought we played very well. "I am completely satisfied. We did everything well, we moved the ball with pace and were very aggressive without it. I wish the team could always play like they did tonight."
Real did have fortune on their side, though, as their first and third goals were credited as own goals after taking wicked deflections. Emiliano Insua was first to put through his own goal 17 minutes in when he turned Pepe's fiercely struck effort past the helpless Thibaut Courtois in the Atletico goal.
Jese Rodriguez then continued his fine scoring form with the second just before the hour mark, and Real all but secured their place in the final when Angel di Maria's shot deflected off Miranda to wrong-foot Courtois.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone refused to write off their chances of producing a famous comeback in the second leg. "I think Real Madrid played very well, but they scored twice with shots that hit our players on the body and went in," he said. "We still have 90 minutes to play and anything can happen in football."
Barca have it easy
Real now look set for another meeting with Barcelona in the final as the Catalans were 2-0 victors in the first leg of their semi-final against Real Sociedad on Wednesday. Barcelona, like Real, also had luck on their side as Enaut Zubikarai's own goal added to Sergio Busquets' opener handed them a comfortable win over 10-man Sociedad.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi's drought without a goal from open play extended to five games, but the Argentine was extremely unlucky not to give his side the lead with a wonderful free-kick that came back off the underside of the bar.