Spanish cup - third round, first leg

The seven remaining first leg games all took place on Wednesday evening, and once again some first division teams were in trouble. Real Madrid lined up without Zidane, Figo, Roberto Carlos and other big names and paid the price, losing 1-0 to Gimnastic Tarragona. Nàstic dominated the game from start to finish and only a good performance by keeper César and poor finishing by the Catalans saved Madrid from a much bigger defeat. Marcelo had a goal disallowed for offside in the second half which provoked a near riot from the fans, but eventually the home team got the victory they deserved when Karanka turned Codina's cross past his own keeper near the end.

Mallorca were also beaten 2-1 by second division Córdoba only six days after the first division side were dumped out of the UEFA cup by Slovan Liberec. Sergio Kresic decided to rest his strike pairing of Eto'o and Luque as well as veteran defenders Nadal and Miguel Soler, but Pepe Murcia also made changes to his first choice line up. Platero headed the home side into the lead 20 minutes in to the game, and although Riera levelled the scores in the second half after good work by Carlos, Lawal restored the lead for the Andalucians three minutes later.

Víctor Muñoz was not taking chances though, and his Villarreal team were at full strength for the game at Sporting Gijon. With Valencia suspended, reserve keeper Juanjo lined up for the Asturians, but with only a quarter of an hour on the clock he too got himself sent off for a foul on Craioveanu in the area. The Rumanian striker took the resulting penalty himself, but junior side keeper Dani Lastra came on to save with his first touch of the ball. To make matters worse Pablo Alvarez put the ten men in front, although logic prevailed in the end, with Craioveanu heading an equaliser before the break. Two from Jorge López and another from Quique Matín put the visitors three ahead in the second half before Pablo Alvarez scored his second for a final 2-4 result.

Athletic Bilbao's manager Jupp Heynckes gave a start to Ezquerro at Salamanca after he had scored recent match winners against Sevilla and Barcelona, and it proved a good decision, with the Basque forward beating Stelea twice in the first half to give his side a two goal lead at the interval. However a Rogerio free kick narrowed the gap, and Rober made it all square at 2-2 with a quarter of an hour to go.

Valladolid put a foot and a half into the next round with a 1-3 victory at on-form Badajoz. Turu Flores gave the visitors the lead with only his second goal for his new club, but Rodri equalised a few minutes later. However Luis García scored only a minute after the restart, and top scorer Tote got another later on to give Carlos Alhinho his first defeat since taking over nine games ago.

Rayo Vallecano were another side from the top flight to struggle, and they were held to a 0-0 draw by the recently created second division B side Cuidad de Murcia. In fact the Madrid based club can think themselves lucky not to have lost, and they proved once again why they are currently bottom of the first division.

In the clash between the two giant killing second division B sides, Figueres came out on top with a 2-1 win over Novelda. All three goals came in the second half, with Arnau putting the home side in front, Madrigal levelling the scores and Arnau scoring again five minutes from the end to give his side a narrow victory to take in to the second leg next week. (12.12.01)

Only one match scheduled for Tuesday night in the third round first leg of the Copa del Rey, and in the end it was not played. Deportivo de La Coruña had been drawn to play the first leg at second division B side Hospitalet. However Deportivo exercised their right under the rules of the competition to refuse to play on the artificial pitch at the Catalan side's stadium, and the Federation rescheduled the match to take place at Barcelona's mini-stadium, where their B team hold their matches. Hospitalet's president Miguel García refused to accept the change of venue though, and ordered his team not to turn up. As a result Deportivo qualify automatically for the quarter finals, and Hospitalet will receive a large fine and will be banned from the competition next season. (11.12.01)

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