Barcelona kicked off the fourth round of the cup with a 0-1 victory over neighbours L'Hospitalet, the match being brought forward by a month as Guardiola's side will be taking part in the World Club Cup when ties are due to be played. The coach put out a strong line up which included five world Cup winners, but even so they were unable to break down a well-ordered defence until shortly before half time, when Fàbregas laid the ball back for Iniesta to fire an unstoppable shot in to the top corner of the net. Local keeper Moragón made a string of saves from Keita, Fàbregas and in particular Villa after the restart, and Puyol headed against the post on the stroke of half time, but the second division B side almost saved the draw when Pinto had to save from Aday late on. (09.11.11)
Two more matches brought forward this week from the fourth round of the cup, both involving the Europa League participants who have European commitments next week. Atlético Madrid kicked off the evening against Albacete, one of the teams relegated from the second division last season, and Manzano paid the price for leaving several of his key players at home, his side losing 2-1 on the night. Calle put the locals ahead from the penalty spot on the half hour mark after Domínguez handled in the area, but Atlético were given a penalty of their own at the beginning of the second half, Miguel Nuñez sent off for bringing down Juanfran in the area. Adrián fired his kick over the bar though, and the visitors were also left with ten men when Domínguez was shown a second yellow card on the hour mark. Zurdo crashed home the resulting free kick to put his team two up, but Adrián made up for his penalty miss with a vital away goal after Assunçao put him through near the end.
Later in the evening Athletic Bilbao visited Oviedo, another side who have seen better days. Bielsa wasn't taking any chances though and put out a strong side, only missing the injured Llorente. And in the end he needed all the resources at his disposal as the second division B side put up a good fight before going down 0-1 in the end. The only goal came early on, De Marcos running on to a Muniain assist to beat Lledó, but after that the local keeper put in a strong performance with saves from De Marcos before the break and Susaeta, Ander and Iraola after the restart. Urged on by a 16,000 crowd the home side gave their best shot, Jandrín in particular going close a couple of times after the interval, but in the end Athletic's defence held fast to take a one goal advantage in to the second leg. The rest of the first leg matches take place next Tuesday, the outstanding ties being Real Madrid's visit to Ponferradina and Valencia's fixture at Cádiz. (08.12.11)
Defending champions Real Madrid are pretty sure of a place in the last sixteen after a 0-2 win against Ponferradina on Tuesday night, a confidence boosting result after Saturday's disappointing defeat against Barcelona. Callejón scored the first after Khedira set him up on the half hour mark, and although Raúl Albiol got himself sent off for a second bookable offence with twenty minutes to go, Ronaldo made it two soon afterwards from Higuaín's assist. Elsewhere Valencia and Villarreal could only draw against second division B sides Cádiz and Mirandés, Betis were beaten 1-0 by second division neighbours Córdoba, and Levante lost 3-1 at Deportivo. Otherwise however results went with form, and subject to next week's second leg ties most if not all of the teams in the next round will be from the top flight. (13.12.11)