My Soccer World

Football: Barcelona And Sevilla Squeeze Into Spanish Cup Semi-Finals

Posted on: January 30, 2009

MADRID: Runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona edged into the semi-finals of the Spanish Cup thanks to a narrow 3-2 home win over city rivals Espanyol on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Sevilla dumped out holders Valencia on the away goals rule thanks to a dramatic last-minute strike from French defender Sebastien Squillaci.

Barcelona will face Real Mallorca in the last four, while Sevilla will take on Athletic Bilbao.

Barcelona had been held 0-0 in the first leg of their tie against their neighbours, but coach Pep Guardiola displayed his confidence ahead of the return leg by leaving in-form strikers Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o on the bench at the Nou Camp.

After Jonathan Sorino had spurned a great chance to put the visitors ahead, Barca took the lead in the 35th minute.

Bojan Krkic tucked the ball into the net after Espanyol goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez had spilled Sylvinho’s speculative shot.

Bojan made it 2-0 two minutes into the second half when he raced onto Xavi’s pass and lifted the ball over the onrushing Alvarez, with central defender Gerard Pique heading home Dani Alves’s right-wing cross less than 10 minutes later.

Espanyol pulled a goal back almost immediately when Ferran Corominas’s effort from the edge of the box cannoned off Barca captain Carles Puyol and looped into the net.

With just over 20 minutes remaining substitute Jose Maria Callejon set up a grandstand finish when he lashed a shot through Barcelona keeper Jose Manuel Pintos’s fingers from 25 yards out.

Barcelona were rattled, but they managed to keep their opponents at bay before Espanyol substitute Daniel Jarque was sent off for picking up two bookings in injury time.

Valencia took a 3-2 aggregate lead into the second leg of their quarter-final at Sevilla’s imposing Ramon Sanchez Pijuan stadium, and they quickly extended their advantage when skipper Carlos Marchena nodded home from Joaquin’s eighth-minute corner.

Mali striker Freddie Kanoute restored parity in the game 10 minutes before half-time, but Valencia looked to be on course for the last four until Squillaci’s last-gap header nudged Sevilla ahead on the away goals rule.

Bilbao booked their last-four place after coming back from a goal down to beat Sporting Gijon 2-1 on Wednesday.

With the tie goalless after the first leg, hosts Sporting took a sensational early lead when Carmelo Gonzalez fired a low shot into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the penalty area inside 30 seconds.

But Igor Gabilondo produced a deft lobbed finish before half-time to tie the score and give the visitors an away goal advantage, with David Lopez making sure of Bilbao’s progress when he headed home a right-wing cross in the second half.

In Wednesday’s other game, Mallorca secured a 0-0 draw at Real Betis that gave them a 1-0 aggregate victory.

– AFP/yb

Channel News Asia

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