Valencia are close to a quarter final meeting with either Celta or Real Madrid after a 0-2 victory at Osasuna in the first match of the fifth round. The two teams met in the league on the same ground only three days ago, and although the line-ups changed quite a bit, the outcome was more or less the same. The Ches are proving to be more solid at the back after the arrival of Ernesto Valverde a couple of weeks ago, and only a couple of long shots from Timor and Onwu createdany work for Diego Alves. The locals did feel however that they should have had a penalty when the ball hit Ricardo Costs on the hand, but soon afterwards only a good save by Riesgo prevented Jonas from opening the scoring. The visitors did go ahead though just a couple of minutes in to the second half when Dani Parejo beat the keeper with a well-struck free kick, and although Nino and Anan tested Alves a couple of times later on, Soldado wrapped things up in the last minute with a second goal after Riesgo could only push out a shot from Bernat. (11.12.12)
Four more fifth round, first leg ties on Wednesday night, with Barcelona and Real Madrid both in action. Barcelona kicked off the evening with a visit to second division side Córdoba, and the ground was full to bursting for their first game in the Andalusian city in 49 years. Vilanova was taking no chances though, with Messi, Villa and Pedro heading up a strong attack, and within ten minutes the three combined for Villa to set up Messi for the opener, seconds after Thiago had rattled the upright. Córdoba were not going to let a chance like this go begging though, and with the crowd behind them they upped their game, Rennella getting the ball in the net only to be pulled up for a marginal offside. Villa had a penalty appeal turned down, but otherwise the locals held them at bay until their legs tired well in to the second half. With twenty minutes to go Saizar did well to keep out Messi as he advanced on goal, but five minutes later he could do nothing when the Argentinian forward picked up a pass from Alexis to score his second of the night. A brave performance, but with Messi on this sort of form it was a hopeless task.
Later in the evening Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Celta, a result which could have been worse for Mourinho's side had the locals taken their chances. Park Chu Young in particular missed three or four chances in the first half, and Bermejo headed just wide from a corner shortly before half time. Ten minutes in to the second half though Bermejo got on the end of a Krohn-Dehli cross to fire a shot under Adán, and twenty minutes later substitute Cristian Bustos made it two with a long shot which sailed over the head of the keeper in to the net. Up to that point only Cristiano Ronaldo had caused any problems for Sergio in the local goal (albeit that he was lucky not to be shown a second yellow card in the second half), and with four minutes to go he kept his side in the tie with an all important away goal, beating the offside trap to connect with Xabi Alonso's lofted pass and sweep a shot past the keeper.
Meanwhile Sevilla and Atlético Madrid are fairly sure of a place in the quarter finals (and a possible semi-final meeting) after they both clocked up big victories. Sevilla thrashed Mallorca 0-5 in their Iberostar stadium, which together with twelve games without a win before that left local coach Joaquín Caparrós in a delicate situation. The Andalusians raced in to a three goal lead with less than half an hour gone, Negredo starting things off with a header from a Rakitic corner on the quarter hour mark, and then netting a second time after Manu set him up three minutes later. Medel poked home a third from a Navas assist soon afterwards, and before the half time whistle Palop saved a Giovani penalty after Fazio brought down Arizmendi in the area. Things didn't finish there though, Botía getting on the end of a Reyes free kick to make it four just a couple of minutes after the restart, and Manu and Reyes going close before Luna connected with a Navas centre to complete the scoring with six minutes to go.
Atlético Madrid are also close to place in the last eight after a 3-0 win over city neighbours Getafe. Despite next Sunday's big match in the Nou Camp, Simeone put out a strong starting XI, and he would have included Falcao had he not pulled out at the last minute with a muscle strain. The match got off to a lively start, with both keepers in action early on, although Atleti struck first when Diego Costa converted a penalty after he was bundled over in the area by Alexis. A few minutes later Moyà did well to keep out Costa again, and Diego Castro and Lafita tested Courtois in reply either side of half time. However with ten minutes to go Filipe Luis made it two, popping the ball back in to the net after Turan's shot came back off the foot of the post, and seven minutes later Costa got on the end of Gabi's cross to beat Moyà for a third time. (12.12.12)
Few goals in the two cup ties on Thursday evening, although there was plenty of action in both matches. Levante and Zaragoza kicked off the evening in Valencia, with the visitors running out 0-1 winners thanks to a last minute goal by Aranda. Both coaches made several changes to their line-ups, giving a run out to their reserve keepers Keylor Navas and Leo Franco, and Navas was in action early on to save from Edu Oriol, Wilchez putting the rebound over the top. Franco had to make a couple of stops as well from Roger and Angel, and Juanlu fired the best chance of the first half just over the bar shortly before the change of ends. After the restart Navas kept out Javi Alamo and Volta blocked an effort from Aranda, and Franco made saves from substitute Martins, and from a dipping shot by Juanlu. However with a draw seemingly on the cards, Aranda picked up the ball in midfield after Oriol played on a Franco clearance, and with Navas coming off the line, the striker coolly lifted a shot over his head and in to the net.
Later in the evening Las Palmas and Betis drew 1-1, leaving the result in the balance until the two sides meet again in Sevilla in early January. Local goalkeeper Barbosa was kept busy early on, saving from Joel Campbell and a couple of efforts from Molina, and Agra felt he should have had a penalty a few minutes later. Nauzet fired a free kick just over the bar at the other end, and a lively start to the second half saw Barbosa keep out Campbell again, and Casto tipping efforts from Thievy and Momo over the bar. Pepe Mel turned to top scorer Rubén Castro though, and within ten minutes he opened the scoring against his old side after Molina teed him up. Barbosa did well to prevent Castro from adding to the lead soon afterwards, but with six minutes to go Crisantus finished off after a good run by Thievy to keep the Canary Islanders in the tie. (13.12.12)
Eibar put in another great performance in the cup this week, the second division B side giving Málaga a run for their money before the Andalusians came back to level the tie at 1-1. Having knocked out their Basque neighbours Athletic Bilbao last week, the locals were looking for another surprise, and they had the better chances in the first half on a rain sodden and muddy pitch which slowed the visitors down. With a quarter of an hour to go they took the lead, Añibarro getting behind the defence to poke Bingen's free kick wide of Kameni. But Sergio Sánchez hit the bar with a long shot a few minutes later, and with the game already in the third minute of injury time, keeper Altamira came off his line to a long Buonanotte free kick which he was never going to reach, and Onyewu got ahead of him and his defence to head the ball in to an empty net. (18.12.12)