Rodrygo honors Pelé, Real Madrid advances in Copa del Rey

Real Madrid's Rodrygo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during a Spanish Copa del Rey round of 32 soccer match between Cacereno and Real Madrid at the Principe Felipe stadium in Caceres, Spain, Tuesday Jan. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Pablo Garcia)

MADRID (AP) — Rodrygo scored in the second half and celebrated by honoring the late Pelé as Real Madrid edged fourth-division club Cacereño 1-0 to advance to the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey on Tuesday.

The Brazil forward broke the deadlock in the 69th minute, dribbling past two defenders inside the area before sending a curling right-footed shot into the top corner, then celebrated by imitating Pelé’s traditional punch in the air.

Pelé died at age 82 on Thursday and was buried in Brazil on Tuesday.

Madrid was making its Copa debut in the round of 32 because it was among the four teams in the Spanish Super Cup, along with Barcelona, Real Betis and Valencia.

Rodrygo was among the few regular starters used by coach Carlo Ancelotti, who rested players such as Karim Benzema, Vinícius Júnior and Luka Modric.

Eden Hazard started but was substituted just before Rodrygo opened the scoring.

Cacereño had upset top-flight club Girona in the previous round.


Two first-division clubs were eliminated by second-division opponents. Rayo Vallecano lost 2-0 at Sporting Gijón, which scored both goals with Uros Milovanovic in the second half. Getafe lost 3-2 at Levante, which got the winner with Wesley in the first minute of stoppage time.

Elche, last-place in the Spanish league, was upset by third-division club Ceuta 1-0, with the hosts scoring the winning goal with Rodri in the 44th. Elche, the only team yet to win in the league after 15 rounds, played a man down from the 61st because of a red card to forward Ezequiel Ponce.


In the only matchup between first-division clubs, Espanyol needed extra time to defeat Celta Vigo 3-1 after a 1-1 draw in regulation. Sergi Darder and Nico Melamed scored for the hosts in extra time.

Villarreal routed Cartagena 5-1 with all goals coming in the second half after the hosts took a lead into halftime, while Valencia defeated La Nucía 3-0 with goals by Justin Kluivert, Ilaix Moriba and Hugo Duro.

On Wednesday, Barcelona takes on third-division team Intercity, while Atlético Madrid faces second-division club Oviedo.