Copa del Rey, final phase first leg
The Spanish cup competition begins in earnest this month, with the nine teams qualifying for Europe joining the seven survivors from earlier rounds. Last season's cup winners Betis came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Celta, and now have the edge for next week's second leg. Jesús Perera put the Vigo based side into the lead from the penalty spot midway through the first half, and should have had a second a couple of minutes later. But the locals were left with ten men half an hour from the end when José Enrique was shown a red card for a tackle on Dani, and the visitors finally took advantage when Lequi headed Dani's speculative cross past his own keeper.
Deportivo are almost sure of a place in the last eight after a 3-0 win over last season's beaten finalists Osasuna.The Galicians went ahead in the eleventh minute when Munitis crashed a long shot in off the post, and Valerón made it two on the stroke of half time when he turned a Munitis cross in on the near post. The visitors tried to fight back after the break, Sergio heading a Cruchaga shot off the line with Molina beaten. But five minutes from the end substitute Scaloni got his side's third goal with a spectacular shot from outside of the area.
Cádiz also took a three goal lead against neighbours Sevilla, but two late strikes from Kanouté pegged the result back to 3-2. Mirosavljevic headed the hosts into the lead from Estoyanoff's cross midway through the first half, and Medina headed home a corner just two minutes later. The locals went three up a quarter of an hour in to the second half when Martí scored in his own net, but Kanouté pulled one back after Jesuli laid back a long cross. Cádiz could have gone further ahead when an attempted clearance by Alves hit his own post, but with a minute to go Kanouté headed home Adriano's cross to give keep his side's hopes alive.
Valencia are another team who have one foot in the next round after beating local rivals Villarreal 0-2. Pellegrini reserved key players for the weekend game at Real Madrid, and the visitors took advantage to dominate the first half. Barbosa had to be at his best to keep out Villa and Mista, and Villa hit the post from close up with the goal at his mercy. Ten minutes after the restart the visitors took the lead when Regueiro beat the keeper with an angled shot, and soon afterwards Barbosa was sent off for bringing down Villa in the area, the striker firing home the resulting penalty for the final result.
Espanyol also have a good advantage for the second leg after surviving a twice taken penalty at Getafe and going on to win 0-1. The turning point came ten minutes from the end when Ito brought down Redondo inside the area. Güiza fired the first spot kick over the bar, and when the referee ordered a retake, Paunovic fired his kick even further up into the stands. A minute later the visitors won a free kick on the left of the area, and Jarque glanced a header wide of the keeper to win the match. (04.01.06)
Barcelona dashed the hopes of lowly Zamora with a 1-3 win in their first leg match. Frank Rijkaard left most of his big names at home, and an upset could have been on the cards when the second division B side took the lead through Xaco in the fourth minute. But Van Bronckhorst ran on to Márquez's through ball to level the scores before half time, and Márquez himself put the Catalans ahead with a well struck free kick ten minutes from the end. And four minutes later Giuly got ahead of the defence to turn Sylvinho's cross past the keeper and end any hope of another giant killing act from the minnows.
A late goal by David Beckham gave Real Madrid a 0-1 victory against Athletic Bilbao in the San Mamés stadium. The England captain got on the end of Robinho's cross twenty minutes from the end to fire a shot in to the roof of the net and give his side a moral boosting win. Both teams had gone close beforehand, visiting keeper Diego López saving from Athletic's new signing Aduriz early on and Soldado having a goal disallowed at the other end a few minutes later, but in the end it was López Caro's side who hold the advantage for the second leg in a week's time. (03.01.06)