Valencia, Malaga through to King’s Cup quarters

Updated 09 January 2013
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Valencia, Malaga through to King’s Cup quarters

MADRID: Valencia eased past La Liga rivals Osasuna into the quarterfinals of the King’s Cup on Tuesday night, while Malaga flirted with danger against third-tier Eibar before a flurry of late goals put them safely into the last eight.
Valencia will play 2011 winners Real Madrid or Celta Vigo for a place in the semi-finals, with Celta holding a 2-1 advantage from last month’s last 16, first leg ahead of their visit to the Bernabeu.
Malaga are facing a probable last eight clash with holders Barcelona, who host Cordoba tonight having won their first leg 2-0 at the second-division Andalusian club.
Valencia went into their second leg against Pamplona-based Osasuna with a 2-0 lead and were cruising at a half-empty Mestalla when Tino Costa smashed in a free kick to open the scoring in the 34th minute.
However, Joseba Llorente pulled a goal back with a powerful low drive three minutes later and both sides squandered a number of chances before substitute Roberto Soldado struck with the last kick of the game for a 2-1 victory that sent Valencia through 4-1 on aggregate.
In the earlier kickoff at Malaga’s Rosaleda stadium, Argentine midfielder Diego Buonanotte saved the Andalusian club from potential humiliation when he scored twice and created another in a 4-1 comeback win against lowly Eibar.
Lying second in their regional section of the Segunda B division and never having played in the top flight, Eibar knocked out 2012 finalists Athletic Bilbao in the previous round and held Malaga to a 1-1 draw at their tiny Ipurua stadium in the Basque Country in the first leg.
They took a surprise lead in the 12th minute of the return game when Ruben Arroyo was quickest to the rebound from a long-range Mikel Arruabarrena effort and goalkeeper Carlos Kameni could only deflect his weak shot into the net.
With Malaga fielding a weakened side, Eibar held on relatively comfortably until the 74th minute when Buonanotte exchanged passes with Javier Saviola and struck the ball high past Eibar keeper Xabi Iruretagoiena.
Two minutes later, Buonanotte set up Seba Fernandez to make it 2-1 on the night and substitute Francisco Portillo glanced a header into the net from a Nacho Monreal center in the 82nd minute as the visitors’ defenses crumbled.
Their misery was complete when Guillermo Roldan was shown a straight red card four minutes from time and Buonanotte scored his second in added time to make it 5-2 on aggregate and set up a quarter-final meeting with holders Barcelona or Cordoba.
Sevilla are virtually assured of a place in the last eight after they won their first leg at Real Mallorca 5-0 and host the Balearic Islanders on Wednesday before Real Zaragoza seek to maintain a 1-0 advantage at home to Levante.
Lazio in semis
In Rome, Lazio beat Catania 3-0 on Tuesday to waltz into the Italian Cup semi-finals and keep their so far successful season on track for silverware.
The Rome club, riding high in second in Serie A, never looked in difficulty once Romanian defender Stefan Radu headed in a corner on the half hour.
Brazilian midfielder Hernanes converted Sergio Floccari’s assist midway through the second half to seal matters before adding another classy goal in stoppage time.
Serie A leaders and defending champions Juventus host old rivals AC Milan in Wednesday’s last-eight clash while Inter Milan welcome Bologna and Fiorentina play at home against AS Roma next week in the often unloved competition.


Riyad Mahrez comes of age at Manchester City in search for glory

Updated 34 min 50 sec ago
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Riyad Mahrez comes of age at Manchester City in search for glory

  • Riyad Mahrez signed for City in a $76.6 million move
  • All eyes were on how Pep Guardiola’s only summer signing would add an extra edge to a record-breaking side

MANCHESTER: It took eight games for Riyad Mahrez to show why Manchester City paid a club record £60 million ($76.6 million) for his services.
All eyes were on how Pep Guardiola’s only summer signing would add an extra edge to a side that broke records on the way to claiming the Premier League title last season.
The Algerian winger came off the bench just past the hour mark against Cardiff two months ago and slid home his first City goal from close range before curling in a second with a fine left-foot finish.
The brace provided lift-off for the 27-year-old and his confident displays since have quickly dispelled any doubts that he would struggle to adapt to a system under Guardiola that demands commitment as well as class.
For Mahrez, he has been working to fulfil this footballing dream ever since he was a youngster practicing his skills on the streets of Paris suburb Sarcelles, encouraged by his late father Ahmed.
“I’m proud,” he says of an inspiring journey that began professionally in the French Second Division with Quimper in 2009, then at Le Havre a year later, before joining Leicester City for just £400,000 in 2014.
“It’s not easy to arrive here (at City), to come to a club like this. You need to work very hard to get here and when you do it’s not the final thing.
“You still need to work even more, to perform, to be humble, and to try to go higher. Of course, I want to do even better.
“I didn’t feel any pressure when I came because of the price, I don’t think about this stuff.
“I’m feeling good now at City, playing good at the moment and we are winning games. But it’s not finished yet and we need to keep going. The season is very long and we all have to keep going like this.”
While Mahrez has already won the league title with Leicester during a fairytale 2015-16 season that also saw him crowned the PFA Player of the Year, he remains ambitious and convinced he can still improve.
A yardstick has perhaps been set by Liverpool’s Egyptian frontman Mohamed Salah, who took his game to another level with 44 goals last season, winning the PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year awards and named third in the 2018 Best FIFA Men’s Player.
“Salah had a very good season. And we have a good team, we can score a lot of goals and I hope to do more, like he has done,” Mahrez told Arab News exclusively.
“But the most important thing is that we keep on winning as a team, and I’m going to try to help the team to do this, to score goals, make assists.”
The performances of Mahrez, who has claimed four more goals since the Cardiff match, and eight-goal Salah on Merseyside could well be integral to how their clubs eventually fare in this campaign.
Both teams are unbeaten in the league after 12 games with City two points clear of Liverpool, a lead confirmed by the impressive 3-1 win over neighbors United in the recent Manchester derby.
But Mahrez knows the mesmerising manner in which they have roared to the top will mean nothing if they are not there next May.
“The derby was special, a good atmosphere, a good win, I’m very happy,” he said after his first experience of the rivalry.
“But it’s not that because we beat United we are going to win the league. You can’t think like that, there’s still a long way to go and we have to keep focus.
“We have a good team, we are playing well. We just need to keep working hard for each other and we know we are going to be there at the end of the season. That’s the target.
“I won the title with Leicester, but I came here to win more trophies.
“I’m not going to say I’m going to win this or that, but of course this is a club that wants to win trophies. Win the Premier League, I don’t know. Win the Champions League, I don’t know.
“But we are going to make everything we can to try to do that. That’s the challenge for us.”