|Copa del Rey|
Fifth round, first leg
Barcelona are close to a place in the quarter finals after a 1-3 win at Atlético Madrid on Tuesday night. The star of the evening was once again Leo Messi, who scored a hat-trick to give his side a two goal lead for next week's second leg. Guardiola made eleven changes from the team he used against Mallorca on Saturday, with Agüero the only real absence from the local starting line up. Messi opened the scoring after picking up a return pass from Dani Alves, and Touré Yaya headed against the bar before the Argentinian forward got the second from the penalty spot after Heitinga was sent off for bringing him down. Ujfalusi headed one back from Simao's corner, but Messi hit the bar again and then scored his third of the night after Iniesta set him up. The local fans sportingly gave him a standing ovation as he was substituted by Pedro late on. (06.01.09)
Second division B side Poli Ejido added another scalp to their belts, a 3-2 win over Espanyol increasing their fame after knocking Villarreal out of the cup in the last round. Moisés Hurtado's early headed goal for the visitors was cancelled out by a Jorge Molina penalty after referee Rodríguez Santago ruled that Pareja had handled deliberately in the area. Juli put the locals ahead a few minutes later after Mikel Rico played on Molina's cross, and although Román levelled the scores again with a curling dhot into the far top corner of the net, Chico restored the lead with a spectacular shot from outside of the area. The visitors will be without Hurtado for next week's second leg after he picked up a second booking near the end, but even so they will be hoping for a first win in two months to set up a possible quarter final tie with city neighbours Barcelona.
Real Madrid's giant-killers Real Unión also put in a good performance, even though they went down 0-1 in the end to Betis. Xisco fired a shot just wide before Damià got what was to prove the only goal of the game in the eleventh minute after a good run. But the Irún based side could have saved a draw, Romo and Seguro unable to convert chances following first half corners and Goikoetxea bringing a good save out of Ricardo after the restart.
All the other games were between first division sides, with Sevilla and Deportivo meeting for the first of three matches over the next eight days. The Andalusians went two up by the break, Luis Fabiano opening the scoring with a free kick past the unsighted Fabricio, and Kanouté adding the second after Navas and Capel combined to set him up. But Omar Bravo connected with a De Guzmán cross late on to make it 2-1 on the night, and the Galicians held on even though Adriano hit the bar near the end.
Valencia came away from their visit to Racing Santander with the edge after a 1-1 draw, although they ended with nine men after Vicente and Miguel were sent off near the end, the former for a hard tackle and the latter for a second bookable offence (although he made matters worse insulting the linesman afterwards). Colsa headed in to his own net following a Manuel Fernandes corner shortly before half time to give the visitors the lead. Garay could have levelled the scores two minutes in to the second half when he fired a penalty against the bar after Fernandes fouled Pereira in the areaa, but Lacen did equalise for the locals with a well struck free kick soon afterwards.
Sporting Gijón are favourites to go through in their tie against Valladolid after winning the match 3-1, although they would have been better placed had Canobbio not headed an important away goal from Sesma's cross in injury time. Barral beat veteran keeper Alberto twice in the first twenty minutes to give the Asturians the lead, and Carmelo made it three later in the first half after his first shot was blocked. After that though local keeper Sergio Sánchez was called on a number of times before Canobbio finally beat him at the end. (07.01.09)
Mallorca beat Almería 3-1 on Thursday evening to record their first win in two months. Keita opened the scoring early on for Manzano's side, intercepting Carlos García's clearance after Aduríz's shot had beaten Esteban. José Ortíz equalised a minute later with a long free kick past debutant keeper Dudu Aouate, but Cléber Santana restored the lead from Jurado's corner shortly before half time. Esteban had saved an Aduríz penalty before that after the striker had been fouled, but Varela wrapped things up after the interval following an indirect free kick inside the area.
An injury time goal from Fernando Llorente saved a 1-1 draw for Athletic Bilbao against neighbours Osasuna. With temperatures below zero there was little action for most of the ninety minutes, Ezquerro heading the best chance over the bar. Pandiani appeared to have won it for Camacho's side though when he beat Iraizoz seven minutes from the end, but Llorente pounced on to a rebound after Ricardo saved from Toquero to equalise right at the end. (08.01.09)