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From nowhere to conquerors of Madrid: Leganés continue their stunning rise | Sid Lowe

They train on a pitch surrounded by rubble but a Copa del Rey win over Real Madrid is the latest step on Leganés’s ride

“It’s very noisy in there,” Asier Garitano said. It was Wednesday night and they were going wild in the Santiago Bernabéu dressing room, wild on the pitch and then wild on the bus as it travelled down the Castellana, 17km south to Butarque, where they arrived long after midnight and with no intention of going home. “It’ll be a late one,” grinned captain Martín Mantovani. Leganés had just made history. “Look around you, it happened,” Nereo Champagne had told Nordin Amrabat as he stood staring wide-eyed at an 80,000-capacity arena long-since empty but for a few hundred fans in blue and white, way up in the north stand and down in a corner of the west. They had beaten Real Madrid for the first time ever, reaching the Copa del Rey semi-final, a place they had never been. No wonder it was noisy.

“This is nothing to celebrate,” Garitano insisted but, while he had a point, Leganés’s manager knew better than anyone that it was – and he knew that, for once, no one was really listening to him. They weren’t listening on Wednesday night, where fans waited at Butarque, flags waving, and they weren’t listening when Leganés went back there on Sunday morning, the place packed, and won again. At the end of a 3-2 victory against Espanyol, Garitano summed up 90 minutes in 32 seconds. “In a game that was even, we scored with our first chance,” he began, “in the 45th minute we clear one off the line; the second half starts and they score; when we’re most struggling, we make it 2-1; they have a chance to equalise, they don’t; we make it 3-1; and when it looks like it’s finished, it’s 3-2 and we end the game suffering.”

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