The fourth round of the cup takes place this week, with first division clubs entering the competition for the first time. Valencia were the first to kick off at Llagostera, and the Catalonia based second division B side caused a few problems on their artificial pitch before losing 0-2 in the end. Sellarés had a first half strike ruled out for a borderline offside, and after the break the centre forward fired a penalty kick against the post. However Jonas headed the Ches in to the lead on the stroke of half time after Guardado played a Dani Parejo free kick back in to the goalmouth, and midway through the second half Nelson Valdez headed the second from a Parejo corner.
Later in the evening Barcelona virtually made sure of their place in the last sixteen with a 0-3 win at Alavés. The Vitoria based side are a far cry from the team who gave Liverpool a run for their money in the UEFA cup final a few years ago, but they currently head their 2B regional group, and Tito Vilanova decided to put out a strong line-up. Even so it took them forty minutes to break them down, David Villa controlling a long ball from Iniesta before crashing a shot in off the crossbar. Iniesta scored a second however some five minutes in to the second half with a stylish lob over the keeper after good work by Fàbregas and Villa, and with the game coming to a close Fàbregas got on the end of a long Alves cross to head home the third. (30.10.12)
No problems for Real Madrid in their visit to Alcoyano on Wednesday, Mourinho's side running out 1-4 winners in the end. After much criticism this week of his policy regarding home grown B team players, the coach put out a line-up which included three, including brothers Nacho and Alex Fernández, as well as Morata. Adán got his first start of the season in goal, and he had to make a couple of saves before his long punt upfield was headed back by a couple of defenders in to the path of Benzema, who nipped in to head past Unai Alba. Morata had a goal disallowed for offside, and soon afterwards Benzema laid the ball back for Kaká (captain for the night) to score the second with angled shot. Mourinho replaced Alex with the 17 year old José Rodríguez at the break, and the youngster scored his side's third after Benzema set him up. Javi Lara did then get one back for the locals with a wide free kick inside the near post, but Benzema made it four after picking up Morata's return pass near the end.
Assuming Madrid do go through, their opponents in the next round will be the winners of the tie between Almería and Celta, and right now that looks like being the second division side after they won the first leg 2-0. Both goals came in the second half, Jonathan Zongo getting the first with a shot which looped off the boot of a defender past Sergio, and Abel Molinero firing home the second from outside of the area with four minutes to go after a corner came out to him. The visitors were less than happy with Hernández Hernández though, the referee turning down a good penalty appeal in each half, disallowing a headed goal by Jonathan Vila for offside at the start of the second half, and then sending off Vila for a foul on Charles with half an hour to go. Otherwise however they had few scoring chances against a team who have not let in a goal at home since late August.
Atlético Madrid are virtually through to the fifth round as well after they beat Real Jaén 0-3. After their early exit last season at the hands of Albacete, Simeone was taking no chances, and although Courtois had some work to do in the opening minutes, the visitors went ahead via a Diego Costa penalty after Costa's shot hit Dani Torres on the hand as he was lying on the ground. Referee Delgado Ferreiro followed the rule book and gave Torres a red card, although the defender knew little about it as he had had no time to react. Costa's last touch let him down a couple of times after that as he got free on goal before the break, but with just over an hour on the clock Gabi put Adrián away for him to poke a shot past Toni García. The local keeper did well to save from Oliver, Costa and Adrián later in the second half, but he was eventually beaten for a third time when Raúl García steered a header inside the far post from Silvio's cross in the third minute of injury time.
Atlético's opponents in the quarter finals could be Rayo Vallecano, although Paco Jémez's side will have some work to do after they lost 1-0 at Las Palmas. Things went against them as early as the sixth minute when keeper Dani Giménez was sent off for handling outside of the area. And although his replacement Cobeño made excellent saves from Chrisantus and David García, he was unable to prevent Thievy from opening the scoring after Nauzet laid the ball back to him in the twentieth minute. Near the end of the first half Adrián fired a long shot against the crossbar, but otherwise the Canary Islanders had the better chances, and they will rue the opportunity lost to go in to the second leg with a bigger margin.
Málaga came away from the town of Cáceres in Extremadura with a 3-4 victory over local club Cacereño, although the second division B side put up a good fight before falling to their bigger opponents in the end. Onyewu headed the visitors in to an early lead from Duda's wide free kick, and when Seba Fernández set up Santa Cruz for a second a few minutes later it looked like the game was slipping away from the locals. However before the interval a breakaway goal from Jaraiz and an individualist effort from Chapi made it all square, and it was not until keeper Vargas was sent off for bringing down Seba in the area on the hour mark that Duda restored the lead from the penalty spot. With twenty minutes to go Santa Cruz got his second of the evening after Recio and Seba combined to set him up, but Kameni had to make a couple of saves before Esteve got ahead of him to head his side's third with three minutes to go.
Málaga should wrap things up on the return leg, but the tie between Zaragoza and Granada is in the balance after the Maños won 1-0. Víctor and Aranda caused some problems for the visiting defence early on, but otherwise neither side really looked like scoring until ten minutes from the end, when Aranda controlled Romaric's through ball on his chest before volleying a shot in to the back of Roberto's net. The result was another blow for Granada coach Juan Antonio Anquela, who is under pressure to turn things around after a poor start to the season. (31.10.12)
Eight more cup ties on Thursday, All Saints Day and a public holiday in Spain, Athletic Bilbao kicking things off at lunchtime with a 0-0 draw against neighbours Eibar. Bielsa gave a start to forgotten men Llorente and Toquero in a strong line-up, but they were overshadowed by the second division B side in the first half, Raúl Fernández having to save from Capa and Mainz, and Arruabarrena and Del Olmo firing clear chances wide. Such was Eibar's domination that Bielsa brought on Muniain and De Marcos for Toquero and Ibai Gómez at the break, and that at least got Athletic back in the match. Iraola tested Xavi Irureta a couple of times and Llorente shot over the bar from close to goal, but in the end neither side was able to find the back of the net. Bielsa said afterwards that he wasn't disappointed with the result, and at least his team had kept a clean sheet away from home for the first time in ages. Clutching at straws maybe, but Athletic are still favourites to go through to the last sixteen, where they are likely to meet Málaga.
The way the draw has worked out, Sevilla have a good chance of making it all the way this year, and they got off to a good start with a 3-1 win over Espanyol. They left it before doing so though, two goals in the last ten minutes giving them the advantage going in to the second leg. The Andalusians went in front in the third minute after Kiko Casilla needlessly gave away a corner which Rakitic took and which Fazio headed in to the net. Christian Alfonso brought a good save out of Diego López though before the break, and midway through the second half the young forward leveled the scores, beating the keeper with a low shot. With eight minutes to go however Cala restored the lead from Campaña's corner, and with the game in injury time Negredo got the third from the penalty spot after Galan was given a second booking and consequently a red card for pulling down the Spanish international striker.
The winner of the above tie will meet the winner of the tie between Deportivo and Mallorca, which is still in the balance after the first leg in the Riazor stadium ended 1-1. Neither side created too many chances in a dull first half which was overshadowed by serious injuries to Mallorca youngster Uche, and to Depor's Jesús Vázquez, both of whom were carried off on stretchers. Ten minutes after the restart a speculative ball in to the Mallorca box was only cleared as far as Manuel Pablo, who thrashed a shot back over the head of Aouate for his first goal in nine years. A quarter of an hour later though Lux had to tip a header from Marc Fernández over the crossbar, and from the resulting corner Geromel headed the equalizer on the far post. As luck would have it, the two teams meet again in the league at the weekend, at the same venue.
The quarter final opponents of whoever survives from the above games could be Levante, although the Valencia based team have a lot still to do after they were beaten 1-0 by second division B side Melilla. Juan Ignacio Martínez changed much of his starting line-up, but they were bettered by their opponents in the first half, Chota missing a couple of chances before Velasco converted a penalty after Nikos brought down the midfielder in the area. Martínez threw on Martins and Juanlu in the second half, and with the North African enclave side down to ten men after Carlos David picked up a second booking it looked as if Levante were going to get back in it. However Michel struck a free kick wide, and with the game coming to a close local keeper Munir made the save of the evening from a Rubén García header.
Melilla weren't the only lower ranked team to win on Thursday though, with Sporting Gijón and Córdoba both beating first division sides. Sporting continued their return to form under new coach Juan Ramón Sandoval with a 1-0 victory over an Osasuna side who seem to be having the same problems in the cup as they are having in the league. Mendy went close a couple of times before Juan Muñiz and Alex Menéndez combined to set up Sangoy for the opener in the twelfth minute, and Riesgo had to be on his toes to keep out Mendy again immediately after the restart. A couple of minutes later Cuéllar had to make a spectacular save from Masoud to keep his side ahead, but other than a shot wide by Sisi late on he was hardly troubled again. Osasuna will now have to score twice in the second leg to go through, but whoever wins will probably meet Valencia in the next round.
Córdoba are looking good for a spot in the fifth round and a succulent tie against Barcelona after beating Real Sociedad 2-0. Both keepers were in action early on, Zubikarai saving from Patiño and Saizar stopping efforts from Xabi Prieto and Rubén Pardo. With the first half coming to an end however Patiño turned Fede Vico's shot in to the net, and with a quarter of an hour to go substitute Rennella made it two from the penalty spot after Bergara brought down Vico in the area. The Basques piled on the pressure after that looking at least to score an away goal, but Saizar and his defence held fast to keep the Andalusians on track for a place in the last sixteen for the third year in a row.
Getafe had no problems though seeing off second division opposition, a 0-4 win over Ponferradina virtually ensuring them a fifth round derby against Atlético Madrid. Gavilán opened the scoring after Colunga set him up on a quick counter-attack, and Colunga hit the post with a free kick before Sarabia picked up a long Codina throw and ran on from midfield to make it two. The locals had three strikes ruled out either side of half time, one for a previous foul and two for off-sides, and Leandro and Codina traded saves before Gavilán caught Samuel napping to make it three midway through the second half. Two minutes later Paco Alcácer ran on to a lung punt out of defence to score the fourth, and it was all over.
One other game between first division sides, with Valladolid getting the edge over Betis after a 1-0 victory in their Zorrilla stadium. Both teams had chances in the first half hour, Manucho lobbing a shot just wide of the mark and Jonathan Pereira hitting the crossbar. Soon afterwards though Alberto Bueno put the locals ahead with an acrobatic shot from Lolo's centre, and Casto had to tip over an effort from Neira soon after the restart. The locals were left with ten men for the last quarter of the match when Sereno was sent off for kicking Perquis in an off-the-ball incident, but although Jorge Molina and Rubén Castro went close, Djukic's side closed ranks to defend their lead. (01.11.12)