Valencia have the edge over Sevilla in their fifth round tie after a 1-0 victory in the Mestalla stadium on Thursday night. Negredo volleyed wide for the visitors early on, but for the rest of the first half Unai Emery's side were on top, Jonas and Jordi Alba both going close before Jonas latched on to a pass from Matieu to curl a shot past Palop with just over half an hour on the clock. The visiting keeper had to make important saves from Soldado and Jonas after the restart, and substitute Piatti put another chance over the top, but the Andalusians could have saved the draw when Manu's header bounced back off the crossbar later in the second half. The tie is still wide open though, and everything though will be decided in the Sánchez Pizjuán stadium next week.
Earlier in the evening Córdoba came back from a goal down to beat Espanyol 2-1 rounding off a good first leg for all the lower ranked sides. Sergio García gave the first division team the lead midway through the first half, sweeping the ball back in to the net to make sure after Undiano Mallenco failed to spot that a deflected shot by Alvaro Vázquez had crossed the line before being cleared. Five minutes after the restart though Espanyol were left with ten men when Kiko Casilla was sent off after he was adjudged by the referee to have brought down Pepe Díaz in the area. Substitute keeper Christian Alvarez saved Díaz's spot kick, but Borja García and Caballero scored twice in the last ten minutes to give the Andalusians the advantage for next week's second leg. (05.01.12)
No problems for Barcelona in their first leg match, a 4-0 victory over Osasuna on Wednesday night virtually ensuring them a place in the quarter finals. Fàbregas put them two up with strikes in the first twenty minutes, both from Xavi assists, and only some good saves by Riesgo prevented Thiago, Puyol and Alves from increasing the lead before the break. Messi had started the game on the bench as he was still recovering from a bout of gastric flu, but Guardiola brought him on for the last half hour and he obliged with two more goals, the first a header from a Fàbregas cross and the second in injury time after picking up a long pass from Xavi. A quarter final meeting with Real Madrid is looking ever more likely.
That may not be the only fascinating tie in the next round though, a Basque derby now on the cards after Real Sociedad beat Mallorca 2-0 earlier in the evening. Both teams had chances before Aranburu headed Agirretxe's centre past Calatayud with just over a quarter of an hour on the clock. And roles were reversed as Agirretxe fired home the second early in the second half after the keeper deflected Aranburu's shot on to the upright. Local keeper Zubikarai was hardly troubled after that, and Real are now on track for a quarter-final meeting with eternal rivals Athletic Bilbao. (04.01.12)
Defending champions Real Madrid fought back from two goals down to beat Málaga 3-2 in their first leg match. A major shock seemed on the cards when Sergio Sánchez and Demichelis both headed in Cazorla corners to put the Andalusians two up with less than half an hour gone. Mourinho brought on Özil, Khedira and Benzema at the break though, and midway through the second half Khedira battled through to pull one back. Less than two minutes later Higuaín intercepted a bad back pass by Sergio Sánchez to level the scores, and seven minutes after that Higuaín played on a long ball from Raúl Albiol, allowing Benzema to run through and score the winner. Madrid still need a result in Málaga next week though to go through to a possible meeting with Barcelona in the next round.
It was a night for surprises though, with Mirandés in particular beating Racing Santander 2-0. The second division B side were on top for most of the game, Pablo Infante going close a couple of times before turning a shot past Mario with just over half an hour gone. Christian had a headed goal ruled out for a tight offside and Stuani put an easy chance wide, but with the first half coming to a close Pablo crossed in for Martins to make it two. And after the restart the locals came close to increasing the lead two or three times, Racing's only reply a late effort from Luque which keeper Murcia tipped over the bar.
A 2-1 win as well for Alcorcón against Levante, Borja belting the second division team in to the lead early on with a fierce shot from outside of the area. Pallardó levelled the scores soon afterwards with a first time effort after El Zhar had been tackled, but ten minutes after the restart Nagore put the locals back in front after Keylor Navas failed to hold on to a long Sergio Mora free kick. Navas did well to save from Oriol Riera a few minutes later, but El Zhar and Barkero could have saved the draw later on.
As it happened though, none of the lower ranked teams lost their first leg, second division B side Albacete holding Athletic Bilbao to a 0-0 draw in their Carlos Belmonte stadium. After knocking Atlético Bilbao out in the last ground the Manchegans were full of confidence, and Calle caused a few problems for the visiting defence. However Iraola hit the post midway through the first half, and Toquero and Muniain both had chances to score after the restart. (03.01.12)