As expected, the Racing Santander squad refused to take part in their quarter final second leg against Real Sociedad, and the tie was awarded to the Basque side by default. After several months without pay, the players had issued an ultimatum to the board demanding that they resign, and when this didn’t happen they turned up on the pitch, but stood still at kick-off and walked off a minute or so later. It was a sad end to a brilliant cup run by the second division side after they had knocked out first division teams Sevilla and Almería in previous rounds, but they now have to face an uncertain future, albeit that the courts are likely to throw out the current shareholders and directors in the near future, allowing the club back in to the hands of people with a real interest in getting them back to where they belong. Meanwhile Real Sociedad (who have not reached this stage of the competition since 1988), will meet Barcelona over two legs in the next weeks. (30.01.14)
There will be a repeat of last season’s final, this year at the semi-final stage, after defending champions Atlético Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 1-2 on Wednesday to set up a meeting with city rivals Real Madrid. Only one goal separated the two teams after last week’s first leg in the Calderón stadium, and Courtois had to be at his best to keep out Herrera, Muniain and Rico before Aduríz levelled the tie with a header from Balenziaga’s cross shortly before half time. However with the rain falling heavily at the start of the second half, Raúl García beat Herrerín at the second attempt from a Cristian Rodríguez cross to make it all square on the night, and with five minutes to go Diego Costa beat the offside trap to run on and score his first goal of the new year, handing the hosts their first home defeat since the inauguration of the new San Mamés stadium in the summer.
Later in the evening Barcelona completed the formalities with a 5-1 win against Levante. The 1-4 scoreline from the first leg virtually ensured Tata Martino’s place in the last four, and although Sergi Roberto deflected Vyntra’s header in to his own net following a corner early on (the third game in a row that the Valencia based side had taken the lead against their rivals in ten days), an Adriano shot soon afterwards cut short any chance of an epic come-back. With the half time whistle looming Puyol gave the visitors the lead with a “house-special” header from a corner, and after the restart Alexis scored two of the easiest goals he is likely to score in his career, the first after Javi Jímenez could only partially block a shot from Montoya, and the second after the keeper turned a shot from Adriano on to the bar. Fàbregas wrapped things up with a shot from the edge of the area a few minutes later, and Barça will go on to meet the winner of the Thursday night game between Real Sociedad and Racing Santander. (29.01.14)
Real Madrid are the first team to make it through to the semi-finals after they beat Espanyol 1-0 on Tuesday night. Jesé got the only goal early on from a Xabi Alonso assist to add to the 0-1 win from the first leg, and only a couple of good saves by Kiko Casilla prevented Ronaldo from increasing the scoreline either side of half time. Córdoba and Raúl Rodríguez did have a couple of chances for the visitors as well, but after Victor Sánchez was sent off for a second bookable offence with a quarter of an hour to go it was all over. It was a third single goal win against the Catalans in a little over two weeks, and it was a club record seventh clean sheet in a row for Iker Casillas who, like Diego López in the league, has not let in a goal since the start of the New Year. Madrid’s rivals in the semi-finals (which take place next week and the week after) will be either Atlético Madrid or Athletic Bilbao. (28.01.14)