Real Madrid made hard work of a 3-1 win over plucky Unionistas de Salamanca in the Copa del Rey round of 32 on Wednesday night.
Zinedine Zidane's team opened the scoring inside of 20 minutes when Gareth Bale scored his first Madrid goal since Sept. 1, settling a poor clearance from the defence and sneaking a volley in at the near post to beat Brais Pereiro.
After the match, Zidane said: "Very positive, but the pitch didn't help. We behaved well against a Second Division B team who play very direct. We controlled the second ball, the crosses. The good thing for us is that the level was very good, above all the intensity.
"We knew it was a difficult game at a small stadium. But it's the Copa del Rey and what we want is to go through or at least try. In the end we won the game."
- WATCH! Copa del Rey replay: Real Madrid beat Unionistas
Not surprisingly, Madrid dominated possession, but the La Liga side, who only trail Barcelona in first place on goal difference, failed to find the net again as the first half ended 1-0.
Alvaro Romero scored a classy equaliser for the home side just after coming on as a 55th minute substitute, dribbling all the way from midfield before cutting to his left and curling a shot over the outstretched arms of Alphonse Areola in the Madrid goal.
The home supporters joy was short-lived, though, as Real Madrid retook the lead just after the hour mark thanks to a Unionistas own goal forced by an aggressive move down the left flank.
Real should easily have scored more as the match played out, but some superb goalkeeping from Pereiro and a few unlucky bounces before Brahim Diaz netted in second-half stoppage time to reach the final scoreline.
"I'm happy with what Brahim did," Zidane said. "He gave us the goal and the win. It's what I always say, 'when it's someone's turn, try to do well.'"
Madrid weren't the only team to labour into the round of 16 in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. Barcelona needed two second-half goals from Antoine Griezmann to see off third-tier Ibiza to book passage to the next round (stream all matches live on ESPN+).