Santiago Solari’s reign as interim Real Madrid coach got off to an impressive start on Wednesday as the European champions made light of third-tier hosts Melilla in the Copa del Rey.
Goals from Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Alvaro Odriozola and Cristo Gonzalez earned the 19-time champions a 4-0 win on their first visit to this Spanish enclave on the north African coast.
And while Melilla may not be Barca, there was plenty to like about Real’s performance, not least the bright debut of highly-touted Brazilian teenager Vinicius Junior.
After catching the eye in Solari’s Castilla side the 18-year-old Flamengo recruit was handed his first team starting debut, and was one of Real’s best players.
His superb pass set up Asensio for Real’s second on the stroke of half-time, after Benzema playing as a central striker had tapped in Odriozola’s assist from close range on 28 minutes.
At the restart Solari made two changes, introducing Nacho for Sergio Ramos with Benzema replaced by Federico Valverde.
Melilla began the second period brightly, as they had done the first, proving more of a threat to their well-heeled but hurting visitors.
Against the run of play only a fine point-blank save from Melilla keeper Dani Barrio denied Dani Ceballos on the hour.
Then Vicinius almost marked his first team arrival with a goal, his shot thudding off the crossbar.
Odriozola bagged his first goal for Real, firing into an empty net after good work from Vicinius and Reguillo before substitute Gonzalez headed home.
Solari said on Tuesday he was open to becoming Real coach on a long-term basis, and as a statement of intent, he could not have asked for much more from his first game in charge.