23 January 2013
Real Madrid is now among the top four clubs in the Spanish Cup after beating Valencia in the quarter-finals. The Whites drew 1-1 at the Mestalla, the very setting where the team last won the tournament in 2011, making the 2-0 advantage from the first leg count in a match in which they went ahead in the first half with a goal from Benzema in the forty-fourth minute that all but sealed the team’s qualification for the semi-final. Valencia reacted as soon as the second half began, partly due to the sending off of Coentrão for two yellow cards in the move prior to the equalising goal from a Tino Costa free kick. Even when the team was a man down they gave a master class on control and endeavour, barely allowing their opponent attempts on goal; Valencia had to make do with long-range shots. The only sour note in an otherwise positive first half was the injury to Casillas, who had to be substituted for a knock to his left hand. Madrid had a second player sent off in the final minutes of the clash, on this occasion Di María.
Real Madrid stepped onto the pitch at the Mestalla with practically the same XI that had trounced their opponent on the same ground just three days beforehand, the only change being Benzema in attack for Higuaín. Mourinho’s team controlled the clash from the whistle and the first player to try their luck was Cristiano Ronaldo in the second minute with a long-range attempt. A minute later Valencia also had a long-range shot, from a Tino Costa free kick that resulted in a corner and Valdez saw his header go just wide in the next move. Ronaldo had another opportunity in the eighth minute after a great pass from Xabi Alonso, but his shot with this left foot at the near post was well cleared by Guaita.
The match’s sour note for the Whites came in the thirteenth minute after a corner that saw Casillas receive a knock to his left hand that prevented him from continuing in goal. The goalkeeper, who left the pitch to a great ovation, was substituted by Adán in the seventeenth minute. When play resumed the Whites continued to control the match, while Valencia only really caused any threat from dead ball situations, mostly corners or free kicks taken on the wings. Tino Costa provided Valdez with a good cross in the thirtieth minute but Adán was equal to the Valdez’s header.
The Whites stole possession and played with pace when attacking Guaita’s goal. In the thirty-eighth minute, the Valencia goalkeeper made a good save to prevent a powerful strike by Di María 5 metres from the penalty arc, but he could do nothing to prevent the goal from Benzema in the forty-fourth minute. Xabi Alonso made a sublime pass to the Frenchman, Ricardo Costa was unable to get ahead of him and the forward finished with finesse at the goalkeeper’s right-hand side post, the goal all but sealing the Whites’ passage to the semi-finals. Valencia sought to react in added time with a shot from Jonas that Adán stopped.
In the second half the outlook changed as Valencia emerged from the dressing room looking to attack, despite the aggregate score and Valdez stated his team’s intentions in the second minute of the second half with a shot that went wide. Di María could have settled the clash in the fiftieth minute after a quick counterattack by the Whites, but Guaita stopped the first shot by the Argentine and the subsequent attempt from Benzema. The move that changed the game for the Whites came in the fifty-first minute. A cross hit Coentrão on the hand and Pérez Lasa showed the Portuguese his second yellow card; he was shown the first during the time added on to the first half. The resulting free kick, taken by Tino Costa, was a cross-shot that touched no one and found its way into the Madrid goal. 1-1 and the match became a little more complicated for the Whites.
Mourinho reacted to the sending off by bringing on Nacho for Özil in the fifty-fourth minute to strengthen the defence. Valencia’s confidence was boosted by the goal and the numerical advantage and began to control the clash, but failed to create clear opportunities. Tino Costa, Valencia’s best player, tried his luck from outside the area in the fifty-fourth and sixty-sixth minutes, as did Jonas in the sixty-third minute, but all the shots went wide. The Whites also tried their luck with long-range shots by Ronaldo in the fifty-eighth and sixty-eighth minute and Alonso in the sixty-third minute. Mourinho made his second change in the seventy-fifth minute, bringing Modric on in place of Benzema.
The Whites kept order thanks to their endeavour and by keeping tight against an opponent playing with an extra player. Valdez had another header in the eighty-third minute from a cross by Tino Costa, who again tried his luck with a long shot in the eighty-fifth minute. The third sour note for the Whites came at the end of a match replete with fouls and protests in which Di María was shown a straight red card in the eighty-eighth minute after a move by João Pereira.