The game at La Romareda was ended as a contest by Vinicius in the 72nd minute, when he latched onto James Rodríguez's pass and beat Zaragoza keeper Álvaro Ratón with a supremely deft touch. It's a goal that will do him good, because his richly deserved reputation for lacking end product is what has prevented him from nailing down a place in the side. His problem seems to have been a lack of calm at the crucial moment, so a goal like this will not only keep the media, the fans and his coach on side, but also boost his sense of self-assurance in the final third. He was taken off right after scoring and, as he approached the dugout, exchanged an embrace with Zinedine Zidane that had an air of shared satisfaction about it.
Impressive Vinicius stakes claim as Jovic again disappoints
At the same time, Zidane also brought off Luka Jovic - who is getting opportunities whenever possible but, unlike Vinicius, isn't making progress. And is if to underline Jovic's struggles, Karim Benzema scored the fourth straight after the Serb had handed the baton back to him. Though not a significant goal in itself, it served to highlight the gulf between first choice and understudy. Vinicius and Jovic are two forwards heading in very different directions as they bid for a place in a side that is in rude health everywhere except up front. Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale's absence has left game time up for grabs for anyone able to lay their claim, and Vinicius did just that yesterday. Jovic, however, let a chance pass him by.
That aside, there wasn't a lot to take away from the game in Zaragoza, where two first-half moments of sloppiness left a weakened home side with an uphill battle. At 2-0, the introduction of the formidable Luis Suárez sparked a Zaragoza reaction that lasted until Vinicius netted the third. Los Maños are out, but the fans gave the side a warm send-off, mainly because the club's chief battle is on another front: after seven years outside Primera, a return is finally within reach. Madrid, who have their eye on every trophy going, progress to the quarter-finals along with Athletic, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Granada and the winners of Mirandés-Sevilla and Barcelona-Leganés. The Copa has found its niche once more.