No problems for Barcelona on Thursday evening, Tata Martino’s side beating Getafe 0-2 to cruise through to a quarter final fixture against Levante, who they also meet this weekend in the league. The tie was all but over after the 4-0 result in the first leg, but the coach still included Messi and Neymar in his starting line-up to make sure. Messi and Tello went close early on, and although Pinto had to keep out Juan Rodríguez, Messi got on the end of Tello’s cross to open the scoring just before half time. Some twenty minutes in to the second half Messi proved his return to full fitness with a house-special run past four defenders before clipping the ball past Cobeño for the second, and Alexis, Messi and Tello could all have increased the scoreline after that. The bad news for Martino was that Neymar picked up a sprained ankle in a bad fall, and the Brazilian star may well be out for a few weeks as a result.
Earlier in the day Real Sociedad got their revenge for the 5-1 drubbing they received at Villarreal in the league on Monday, a 0-1 victory seeing them through to a last eight encounter against second division B side Racing Santander. The line-ups this time around were very different though, Marcelino making eight changes to his team, and Jagoba Arrasate six, as well as changing his formation to a 4-3-3. After a 0-0 draw in Anoeta, Perbet came close to scoring the first goal of the tie when his cross-come-shot hit the bar. The visitors were the ones who took the lead though with just over half an hour gone, Javi Ros turning the rebound back in to the net after Juan Carlos could only block a shot by Xabi Prieto. After the interval Musacchio had a strike ruled out for offside and Perbet fired a penalty wide after substitute Uche was brought down in the area, but Real held on for a win which takes them through to the quarter finals for the first time since 1993. (16.01.14)
Alcorcón came within a whisker of qualifying for the quarter finals before they were finally knocked out 4-2 by Espanyol on Wednesday evening. Defending a one goal lead from the first leg, the second division side went further ahead when Oscar Plano combined with Rubén Sanz and Sergio Prendes to score an important away goal in the fourth minute. Simao volleyed home the equalizer from a Javi López cross though just five minutes later, and a Sergio García penalty after Iribas brought down Simao put the Catalans in front on the night. Espanyol still needed another goal though, and Córdoba wasted a couple of chances either side of half time. However Pacheco tested Casilla before the break, and with ten minutes to go Sergio put Javito through to make it 2-2. Many home fans decided to abandon the ground at that point, but they missed an epic comeback, Víctor Alvarez and Pizzi firing home shots in the last few minutes to turn the scoreline in favour of the Catalans.
Espanyol’s opponents in the quarter finals will be Real Madrid, who beat Osasuna 0-2 later in the evening to go through 0-4 on aggregate. Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his “Ballon d’Or” award with the opener in the twentieth minute, his dipping free kick catching out Andrés, who tried to punch it clear but only succeeded in deflecting it comically between his own legs. That meant that Osasuna needed four, and although Cejudo fired a free kick just over and then struck the post, Casillas was more than up to the task of keeping out De las Cuevas and Roberto Torres before the break. Ten minutes in to the second half it was all over when Di María turned the ball past Andrés after a run from Jesé from inside his own half, but Coentrao spoiled the copy-book a bit when he was sent off near the end after picking up a second booking for a kick at Oier.
Athletic Bilbao are also through to the last eight after overturning a one goal deficit from the first leg to beat Betis 2-0 in the San Mamés stadium. Once again Mikel Rico was the star of the show, the ex Granada midfielder scoring a goal midway through each half, the first after controlling a long ball from Iraola before steering a shot past Guillermo Sara. De Marcos, Laporte and Ibai Gómez all tried their luck either side of half time, but it was Rico who made the difference, drilling a low shot past the keeper after a poor clearance from Balenziaga’s cross. Betis had hardly encroached in to their opponents half throughout, but an away goal could still have taken them through, and Chuli got free with ten minutes to go only to shoot straight at Herrerín. Athletic held on though for a win which sets up a quarter final tie against holders Atlético Madrid.
Meanwhile Levante will almost certainly meet Barcelona in the next round after a 1-0 win against Rayo Vallecano. The first leg ended without goals, but the action started early on, Saúl firing a shot against the post and Gálvez shooting wide across goal, with Angel hitting the upright and then bringing a good save out of Cobeño at the other end. With two minutes to go to the break however Angel broke free on the right wing and crossed in for Barral to slide a shot past the keeper and in to the net. That meant that Rayo needed an away goal, and Adrián and Larrivey both came up against Javi Jiménez after the restart. In the end though Levante could have won by a bigger margin had Cobeño not kept out shots by El Zhar and Barral later on. (15.01.14)
Second division B side Racing Santander produced the first big surprise of the fifth round, a 0-2 victory at Almería on Tuesday evening taking the Cantabrians through to the quarter finals! Having already knocked Sevilla out of the competition in the previous round with a similar result away from home, Racing were optimistic that the 1-1 draw from the first leg would keep them in with a chance, and they held their own throughout the first half. With just over an hour gone though Mariano Sanz flung himself at Pedro Orfila’s cross to head past Ustari, and although Mario had to save from Barbosa at the other end, Rubén Durán latched on to a long throw to volley a shot over the head of the keeper. Almería were never going to score three after that, and Racing could have won by a bigger margin had Koné not dithered too long when free in front of goal late on. The reward for the Cantabrians is a quarter final meeting against the winners of the tie between Villarreal and Real Sociedad.
Later in the evening defending champions Atlético Madrid ensured their place in the last eight thanks to a 2-0 victory over Valencia. Simeone’s team had the advantage of the away goal from the 1-1 draw in the first leg, but only a good save by Courtois prevented Bernat from giving the visitors the lead before the break. Some five minutes in to the second half though referee Estrada Fernández ruled that Guaita had touched the ball as Godín’s header bounced over the bar, and from the resulting Raúl García corner the visiting keeper allowed the ball through for Godín to head it back in to the net. Raúl García fired a shot against the post minutes later, but Courtois was called upon again to keep out Postiga and Michel. A goal by the Ches would still have taken the tie in to extra time, but with a minute to go Raúl García headed in a second corner, and a frustrated Dani Parejo got himself sent off with a second yellow card for kicking the ball against a hoarding in disgust. Atleti will play either Betis or Athletic Bilbao in the next round. (14.01.14)