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.


Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

Updated 20 April 2018
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Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

  • The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
  • After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.

Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #Wenger Out believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.