MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid appeared on the verge of elimination from the Copa del Rey on Thursday, facing another demoralizing blow just days after losing the Spanish Super Cup final to rival Barcelona in Saudi Arabia.
But with three goals in less than 30 minutes, Madrid rallied to overcome a two-goal deficit in the first half and defeated Villarreal 3-2 to advance to the Copa quarterfinals for the second straight season.
Barcelona earlier Thursday advanced with a 5-0 rout of third-division club Ceuta, with Robert Lewandowski scoring twice.
Dani Ceballos scored Madrid’s go-ahead goal with a shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 86th minute to give his team victory in Villarreal. He had set up Vinícius Júnior’s goal in the 57th to start the comeback, and Éder Militão got the equalizer in the 70th.
“Things changed in the second half after a poor start,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “I told the players they had to wake up. We lost too many duels.”
Villarreal, trying to return to the last eight after a round-of-32 exit last season, had taken a comfortable lead with goals by Étienne Capoue in the fourth minute and Samuel Chukwueze in the 42nd.
Madrid, which was eliminated by Athletic Bilbao in the quarterfinals last season, had lost 2-1 at Villarreal in its last Spanish league match, dropping three points behind leader Barcelona.
“I think we played better than they did again,” Villarreal coach Quique Setién said. “You always have to be careful with Real Madrid.”
Ancelotti said he was annoyed at Rodrygo for apparently being upset at his substitution.
Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Sevilla, Valencia, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna have also advanced to the Copa quarterfinals.
The draw for the last-eight matchups will be on Friday.
Defending champion Real Betis was eliminated by Osasuna in a penalty shootout on Wednesday.
Barcelona kept momentum from its Spanish Super Cup triumph by comfortably defeating Ceuta. The 3-1 win over Madrid in Saudi Arabia gave the Catalan club its first title since Lionel Messi left in 2021.
Raphinha opened the scoring on Thursday with a low left-footed shot from outside the penalty area in the 41st minute before Lewandowski added to the lead from inside the box after a pass by Franck Kessié in the 50th. Ansu Fati netted the third in a breakaway in the 70th, Kessié scored the fourth with a header in the 77th and Lewandowski found the net again with a low strike in the 90th.
“These matches can be difficult if you don’t play at 100%, so we had to take it very seriously,” Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto said. “After the second goal things got a bit easier. We are happy to be through to the next round.”
Barcelona didn’t make it past the round of 16 of the Copa last season, being eliminated by Athletic Bilbao. It had won five Copa trophies in seven seasons before that.
Ceuta had advanced past first-division club Elche in the round of 32.