Sevilla and Valencia advance to Copa del Rey semifinals
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 29, 2016 10:56 AM
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Brazilian-born striker Rodrigo scored a first-half goal to lead Valencia to a 1-0 win over Las Palmas and send Gary Neville's team into the semifinals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
Rodrigo found the net from inside the area in the 20th minute to help Valencia advance 2-1 on aggregate following a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Valencia last week.
Sevilla also advanced on Thursday thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over second division club Mirandes, reaching the semis 5-0 on aggregate.
Rodrigo scored Valencia's winner after a nice play by Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes, redirecting his cross with a left-footed shot from close range. Las Palmas players complained of offside, but replays showed that the striker appeared to be in legal position.
The victory kept alive Neville's hopes of winning a title this season despite Valencia's struggles in the Spanish league, where it hasn't won in 10 matches.
"Our fans deserved to enjoy a moment like this," Neville said. "They have been patient with me and with the team in these past six weeks."
The former Manchester United and England player is yet to win a league game since he officially took over the squad seven rounds ago.
"It has not been easy for us," Rodrigo said. "It was important to advance to the next round, it gives us more confidence. We played well in the first leg but didn't get a good result. Today (Thursday) we didn't play brilliantly but we advanced, and that's what was important."
Las Palmas pressured until the end to try to get the equalizer but couldn't get past the Valencia defense.
"We did all we could, we deserved at least a draw," Las Palmas defender David Garcia said. "But we have to keep our heads high. It would have been nice to advance, for us and for the city, but we fought until the end."
Sevilla arrived in the northern city of Miranda de Ebro holding a two-goal lead and its early score all but ended the home side's chances of a comeback.
Vicente Iborra opened the scoring after converting a ninth-minute penalty kick, then Juan Munoz added to the lead with a strike in the 70th and Coke Andujar sealed the easy victory with an injury-time header.
"Everything was harder after they scored with the early penalty kick," Mirandes goalkeeper Raul Fernandez said. "We did really well in this tournament, eliminating some top teams. Now we have to move on and focus on getting to the first division."
Barcelona and Celta Vigo advanced to the semifinals on Wednesday, eliminating Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid, respectively. The draw for the semifinals will take place on Friday.
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