|Copa del Rey|
Third round second leg
Matches played on 18th and 19th December
Real Madrid went through to the last eight of the cup with a harder than expected 4-2 victory over Gimnastic Tarragona in the only match brought forward to Tuesday night. Having lost the first leg 1-0 Del Bosque put out an almost full strength side, hoping to reach the final in March which will be played in their own stadium in celebration of their centenary year. However they went further behind when Nástic's new signing Angel Cuéllar beat Casillas in the second minute, and although Raúl headed Zidane's cross past Moso two minutes later Herrero turned in Cuéllar's pass to give the visitors a surprise lead with only a quarter of an hour gone. By half time Madrid were in front though, with Guti holding off Marcelo to level the scores on the night, and then Raúl taking advantage of a mistimed header by Tomás to lob the ball over Moso on the stroke of half time.
Madrid still needed another goal but it did not take long in coming, Guti rounding the keeper as he came out of his area to lay the ball across for Raúl to score his hat-trick. After that the league champions slowed the game down, but a bad back pass from substitute Munitis five minutes from the end let in Castillejo, and Casillas was forced to bring him down only inches outside of the area. Referee Carmona Méndez had no doubts in producing the red card for the young keeper, and with César injured Del Bosque sacrificed Figo to bring on number three 'portero' Carlos Sánchez. However Marcelo drove the free kick wide, and Madrid went through much to the chagrin of the 2,000 or so Nástic fans who made the long trip from Tarragona.
Another surprise on Wednesday night, with Mallorca knocked out of the competition after only drawing 1-1 with second division Córdoba. A goal down from the first leg Sergio Kresic's side needed to win at the San Moix stadium to go through, and the manager put out a strong line up, with the only changes from his first choice side the introduction of Riera and Carlos for Paunovic and Luque. Córdoba's Pepe Murcia did make some changes resting key players, and he must have started to rue his decision when Eto'o opened the scoring early in the game from Campano's corner. However ex Mallorca B defender Alvaro Cámara made it all square in the second half, and the home side were unable to break down the Andalucians' defence even though Biagini and Chichi Soler went close near the end. Córdoba reach the last eight for the first time in 34 years, and Mallorca are out of all cup competitions this year having been eliminated from the UEFA cup earlier this month.
All other first division sides went through, with Athletic Bilbao the first to do so on Wednesday night after beating Sporting Gijon 2-0. Both managers took the game seriously after the 2-2 draw in Asturias the week before, as did the fans, with around 30,000 turning up at the San Mames stadium, by far the best crowd of the night. Heynckes brought back club captain Julen Guerrero for his first start in several weeks, and drafted in youngsters Aranzubia and Murillo. Top striker Urzaiz switched from goalscorer to provider and he set up both goals in the second half, the first for Julen Guerrero just after the restart and the second for Yeste later on. Bilbao have the second best cup history behind Barcelona, but this is the first time they have reached the last eight of the competition for four years.
Villarreal are relative newcomers to the later stages of the cup, and they reached the quarter finals for only the second time ever after defeating Sporting Gijon 3-1. With a two goal lead from the first leg Víctor Muñoz gave some of his non-regular players an outing, lining up without a recognised striker and with wingers Jorge López and Quique Martín in attack. Soto gave the visitors a ray of hope when he took a pass from Pablo Alvarez to score past keeper Unanua with only a quarter of an hour gone, but Cagna made it all square with tremendous shot from outside of the area a few minutes later. The unfortunate Unanua had to leave the pitch with an injury before half time on his first appearance of the season, and the visitors were reduced to ten men when Isma got sent off for a second bookable offence after the break. Quique Martín ended Sporting's good cup run late in the second half with a couple of goals, the first from a pass by substitute Víctor and the second from a free kick.
Valladolid also had no trouble finishing off Badajoz on a freezing night in the Nuevo Zorilla stadium, ending the game with a 3-0 victory after winning the first leg 1-3 a week ago. Both sides rested their best players for the weekend's league matches, with Ciric returning to the home side in attack. Luis García set up Oscar for the opener in the first half and scored himself after the break, and then Fernando Sales wrapped things up with the third ten minutes from the end. The game was a financial disaster for the first division side, with total gate money of only around 100,000 Pesetas from the smaller than usual 4,500 crowd. They also lost three players to injury, with Ricchetti, Mario and Eusebio all having to be substituted at the break. Ricchetti's knee injury could be serious.
Rayo Vallecano only just scraped through 1-0 against second division B side Ciudad de Murcia thanks to a last minute goal from Bolo. The first leg had finished 0-0, and it looked as if the tie would go into extra time before half time substitute Michel found the gap to set up the Basque born striker. Earlier in the game Bolo had missed several easy chances, and Murcia went close a couple of times through ex Real Madrid B striker Zárate. Despite a pitiful performance by the home side the small crowd celebrated the victory enthusiastically, glad of a bit of respite to allow them to forget their troubles at the bottom of the first division. Club president Teresa Rivero did not share their opinion however, describing their performance as shameful and pathetic.
In the all second division B tie, Figueres went through to the last eight for the first time in their history after drawing 0-0 at Novelda. Despite the result it was an open game, with the Alicante side hitting the post before the break and claiming a penalty in the second half for a foul on Madrigal which would have taken them through on away goals after losing 2-1 in the first leg. Figueres held on though to become the first side from their category to reach the quarter finals since Numancia in 1995, and ensure that Cataluña has at least one representative in Friday's draw.
The last match scheduled for Wednesday evening between Deportivo La Coruña and Hospitalet was cancelled as the Catalan club had forfeited the tie, and Deportivo went through automatically to the next round. Hospitalet were fined two million Pesetas and banned from next year's competition after refusing to play at Barcelona B's mini-stadium when the Gallicians exercised their rights not to play on the second division B side's artificial pitch.