|Copa del Rey|
Quarter-finals, first leg
Matches played on 8th and 9th January
Real Madrid took a large step towards a place in the semi-finals of the cup with a flattering 4-0 victory over city neighbours Rayo Vallecano on Tuesday night. Del Bosque was not taking any chances after their problems in the last round, and he only made one change from the side which beat Depor at the weekend, Guti coming in up front for Morientes. The home side had the best of the first half, and Roberto Carlos eventually opened the scoring on the half hour mark running through the defence to drive a shot wide of Lopetegui. Guti claimed a second goal near half time when his deflected shot appeared to cross the line before being cleared by Corino. However Iturralde González waved play on, and also turned down a possible penalty by De Quintana on Guti a couple of minutes later. It was not all one way traffic though, Rayo creating a couple of chances themselves which Bolo in particular wasted. As the game wore on the fans started to get nervous, whistling at Guti when he shot over the bar with only the keeper to beat. However the sky fell in for the visitors as a series of defensive mistakes let in Madrid to score three in six minutes, with Raúl starting things off after Corino turned Figo's cross against his own post. Zidane got the third two minutes later after the defence failed to clear, and Figo beat the offside trap near the end to finish things off and enable his manager to give his stars a rest in the second leg next Wednesday.
Athletic Bilbao look set for a return to cup glory after defeating a disappointing Villarreal 0-2 in a wet Madrigal stadium. Heynckes left out Urzaiz and Etxeberria from his starting line up, but he didn't need them as two goals in three minutes midway through the first half from Tiko put the visitors into a comfortable lead. The youngster got the first with an individualist effort, taking Guerrero's pass and cutting inside to shoot past the surprised López Vallejo, and added a second from close range after Guerrero left the ball for him on a plate. Villarreal's new signing Pizzi was making his first start for Víctor Muñoz's team, but he missed out on a chance to pull one back before the break, and Jorge López saw his deflected effort hit the bar in the second half with Aranzubia beaten. When Quique Alvarez was sent off for a second bookable offence with twenty minutes to go the match was over, and Víctor Muñoz's side were booed off by the fans at the end. Víctor's job could be at risk if his team don't win against Rayo at the weekend. The return leg will be at the San Mames stadium next Tuesday, and although Bilbao's home record is not good this season, the Basques should go through against a team who have never beaten them in their eight meetings to date.
Deportivo La Coruña's fans were also unhappy with their team's performance, and they won! At half time though their match against Valladolid was goal-less, and their supporters got on their backs for the lack of effort. Irureta brought on José Manuel and Duscher for Héctor and Sergio, and stung by their fans' criticism, they took the lead only two minutes after the restart through Capdevila after Djalminha's corner was headed on. A quarter of an hour later Duscher threaded through a defence splitting pass for Makaay to beat Bizzarri to make it 2-0, and Makaay was unlucky not to add a third a minute later when his strike was incorrectly ruled out for offside. Even then there were still whistles from the stands, especially when Irureta took off Makaay to bring on Pandiani, the crowd feeling that the lethargic Diego Tristán was the man who should have been replaced. Valladolid tried their best at the end, with Tote waiting too long for Chema when he broke away, but with Turu Flores unable to play under the contractual conditions of his loan from Depor, the visitors were missing fresh ideas when they most needed them. Depor should be able to do enough next Wednesday to qualify for the semi-finals.
The surprise of the night though came in the all second division clash at Córdoba, where second division B side Figueres left the home team down and out after beating them 0-2 in their own Arcangel stadium. Peña slid home the first early in the second half after Juli set him up, but the Catalans were reduced to ten men when Salas got a red card with half an hour left on the clock. However the second division A could not put away their chances, with Juanito hitting the bar and Whelliton, back in Pepe Murcia's side, shooting wide with the goal at his mercy. Then with five minutes to go substitute Eloi got a second on a breakaway after Juanito had gifted the ball to Freixa. Figueres now have a good chance to become the first side ever second division B side to make it to the semi-finals in the history of the competition.