Real Madrid took a big step towards a place in the quarter finals after they beat Osasuna 2-0 on Thursday evening. The Pamplona based side had held their own against their hosts recently in the league, and Casillas had to save from Cejudo in the opening minutes. Soon afterwards referee Pérez Montero awarded a penalty when Jesé fell under a challenge from Riesgo, but he changed his mind after consulting with his linesman and booked the young forward for diving. Almost immediately however Madrid took the lead, Benzema heading in a wide Modric free kick, and although Oier and Roberto Torres went close either side of half time, only a couple of good saves by Riesgo prevented Ronaldo from scoring. With just under an hour on the clock Benzema intercepted a poor Puñal back pass and passed across for Ronaldo to set up Jesé for the second, and Bale could have scored a third had Ronaldo not got in the way of his shot.
The tie between Real Sociedad and Villarreal is still in the balance however after the game ended without goals. Chances were few and far between in a tactical first half, local keeper Zubikarai having to save a couple of times from Jonathan Pereira, and Iñigo Martínez almost putting through his own net. After the break Chory Castro fired a free kick just over the top, and substitute Xabi Prieto put Griezmann through only for the forward to come up against Juan Carlos. The two keepers were in action again later on to save from Vela and Pereira, but in the end everything will be decided in next Thursday’s second leg. As fortune would have it though, the two teams meet in the Madrigal stadium three days earlier as well, with fifth place in the league at stake.
A 0-0 draw as well between Rayo Vallecano and Levante, in this case hostilities being resumed next Wednesday with a probably quarter final tie against Barcelona at stake. It was dull match though, the best chances in the first half a couple of long shots by Camarasa and Sergio Pinto which Rubén dealt with easily, and a couple of efforts wide of the mark by Trashorras and Alberto Bueno. After the break Gálvez fired a long free kick over the top and Angel had a strike ruled out for offside, and with the game in the final minutes Jonathan Viera put a good chance wide of the post, and Sergio Pinto rattled the crossbar with another free kick. A fair result in the end however. (09.01.14)
Two injury time goals by Leo Messi against Getafe virtually ensured Barcelona a place in the quarter finals! Fàbregas headed the Catalans in to an early lead from Pedro’s cross, and although Pinto had to keep out Juan Rodríguez and Sarabia either side of half time, the ex Arsenal midfielder added a second from the penalty spot after Valera brought down Pedro with just over an hour gone. Tata Martino brought on Messi soon afterwards though, his first appearance after a two month injury lay-off, and with the game already in to time added on Montoya was played across a lifted pass from Busquets, and Messi was on hand to steer a low shot past Codina. There was still time though for the Argentinian star to fire a free kick just wide of the post, and shortly before the full time whistle he picked up an Alex song through ball and ran on to make it 4-0 in the end.
Barça’s city neighbours Espanyol were beaten 1-0 by second division Alcorcón though earlier in the evening, the old giant killers on track for a possible return meeting with Real Madrid, who they famously knocked out of the cup a few years ago whilst they were still down in the regional divisions. Sidnei felt himself unlucky to have an early penalty appeal turned down, and Víctor Sánchez went close later in the first half, but Cristian Alfonso and Antonio Martínez fired shots wide for the locals either side of half time. Sergio García just missed the target after the restart, but with twenty minutes to go Dani Pacheco caught young keeper Germán out of position with a quickly taken free kick, and Juli could have added to the lead when he shot over the bar in front of goal late on.
Second division B side Racing Santander are also in with a reasonable chance of making it through to the last eight after they drew 1-1 against Almería. The match was overshadowed though by events of a non-sporting nature, the local players standing still for the first twenty seconds in protest at a three month delay in salary payments, and radical fans attacking club president Harry Levin in the directors’ box in the second half. Keepers Dani Sotres and Ustari were in action early on to save from Suso and Granero, but midway through the first half Corona put the visitors ahead with a low shot from outside of the area. David Concha combined with fellow substitute Koné to level the scores some twenty minutes in to the second half, and Koné hit the post a few minutes later. Almería ended with ten men after Jonathan Zongo was sent off after catching Saúl García with his elbow near the end.
The first division’s bottom club Betis clocked up a moral boosting 1-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao, the result giving the Andalusians the advantage going in to next week’s second leg in the new San Mamés stadium. They were lucky not to be behind early on though, Andersen having to save from Moran, Ibai Gómez and San José, Gurpegi having a header cleared off the line, and Kike Sola (back after a long absence through injury) shooting just wide. Cedrick missed the easiest of chances at the other end though, Verdú brought a good save out of Herrerín, and with three minutes to go to the break Rubén Castro got on the end of Juanfran’s cross to loop a header over the keeper. After the interval a shot from Chuli was blocked by Balenziaga on the line, but Sola just failed to hit the target later on, and with the game in the dying minutes Sola and Verdú both hit the upright. (08.01.14)
All the remaining rounds of the Spanish cup up to the final will take place over the next two months, Valencia and Atlético Madrid kicking off the first legs of the last 16 with a 1-1 draw in the Mestalla stadium on Tuesday evening. Hélder Postiga and Dani Parejo went close for Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side early on, and the visitors responded with a shot by Raúl García later in the first half which Guaita did well to keep out. A big mistake by Guaita with twenty minutes to go gifted the opening goal to Raúl García though, the keeper trying to punch clear a corner and only succeeding in fisting it back on to the head of the midfielder, and when Courtois pulled off first class saves from Canales and Piatti it looked like the visitors were on for a win. However with the game in the third and final minute of injury time Feghouli laid back Guardado’s cross, and Postiga ran in to head an equalizer which keeps alive his team’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter finals. (07.01.14)