By JOSEPH WILSON,Associated Press
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Valencia ousted Sevilla from the Copa del Rey despite a 2-1 loss on Wednesday, advancing on away goals after striker Roberto Soldado scored in the second half.
Soldado ran on to an excellent through ball by Jonas, who scored in Valencia’s 1-0 first-leg win, and coolly slotted a finish past goalkeeper Javi Varas into the right corner of the net for the 66th-minute opener.
Midfielder Ivan Ratikic pounced on a rebound to level for the hosts four minutes later and Valencia defender Victor Ruiz scored an own goal in injury time, but his team still advanced on the aggregate score of 2-2.
“We are satisfied because after a tough match that hinged on details in key moments, the team was able to pull it out,” Valencia coach Unai Emery said.
Valencia will face regional rival Levante in the quarterfinals after it swept aside second-tier Alcorcon 4-0 for a 5-2 aggregate score, while Alvaro Vazquez scored a hat trick as Espanyol beat second-division Cordoba 4-2 for a 5-4 overall advantage.
Sevilla forward Jose Antonio Reyes had a quiet home debut at Sanchez Pizjuan stadium since returning to his boyhood club from Atletico Madrid last week.
Needing to score from the outset, Sevilla took the initiative early with Piotr Trochowski, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas all drawing saves from Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves.
Sevilla’s pressure kept Valencia on its back foot and defender Adil Rami almost scored an own goal in the 26th when he redirected Negredo’s strike off the post.
Valencia finally threatened the hosts’ area after the half-hour mark as Varas was forced to make a pair of diving saves to parry long strikes by Soldado and Jonas.
With the score 1-1, Ruiz chested a cross into his own net to give Sevilla hope, and Frederic Kanoute almost secured advancement for Sevilla in the dying moments when he headed wide.
Jose Barkero sparked Levante’s rout by scoring on the break in the 23rd minute. Reserve team striker Roger Marti made it 2-0 when he shot into the top of the net in the 45th, and midfielder Vicente Iborra headed in a corner kick at the near post in the 52nd to put the series beyond doubt.
Ruben Suarez capped the win in the 65th with a perfectly placed free kick that he smashed into the top right corner of the net from well outside the area.
Levante, which earlier this season surprisingly took the Spanish league lead for the first time in its history, hasn’t advanced this far in the domestic cup since 1941.
“Our priority is the league, but we are also going to compete for the Copa,” said Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez. “We got by Deportivo, we have beaten Alcorcon, and if we can make it through the next round we’ll be very happy.”
The 20-year-old Alvaro, who netted the late equalizer in Espanyol’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Sunday, scored from passes from Sergio Garcia in the 10th and Vladimir Weiss in the 21st.
Defender Didac Vila extended Espanyol’s lead in the 36th at Cornella-El Prat stadium with a shot inside the area.
But Cordoba responded with goals by Alberto Aguilar and Pepe Diaz to make it 3-2, a result that would have put the Andalusian team through.
Espanyol mustered a late push, and Alvaro deftly chipped oncoming goalkeeper Carlos Arias from the right side of the box for the 89th-minute decider.
Espanyol moves on to face Mirandes after the third-division side knocked out Racing Santander on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Barcelona aims to set up a rematch of last year’s final against defending champion Real Madrid by protecting its 4-0 lead over Osasuna.
Madrid beat Malaga 1-0 on Tuesday for a 4-2 aggregate victory, while Mallorca thrashed Real Sociedad 6-1 to win their series 6-3 overall. Mallorca now awaits the winner of the Athletic Bilbao vs. Albacete on Thursday after their opening 0-0 draw.
The first legs of the quarterfinals will be played next week.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press