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.


Can Cristiano Ronaldo revive Serie A? — Four things to look out for in Europe this weekend

Updated 17 August 2018
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Can Cristiano Ronaldo revive Serie A? — Four things to look out for in Europe this weekend

  • Serie A has been in the doldrums fro over a decade, will Ronaldo's move change that?
  • Lionel Messi is new Barcelona skipper, can he lead them to Champions League glory?

LONDON: The Premier League got underway last week and now the rest of Europe is hot on its heels. Here are four things to look out for across the continent as La Liga and Serie A return…

CAN RONALDO SAVE SERIE A?

Back in the 1980s and 1990s there was only one league to play in, the Italian top-flight. All the best players played there and it was considered as tough an environment to thrive in as any. For the past 15 years the opposite has generally been true. Serie A has become a faded relic which rarely hints at its past glory, a division where Fabio Borini finds a starting spot for the team and in the position that Marco van Basten made his own. In the month since Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Juventus people have started talking about the division positively once again. It seems harsh to expect one man to save a league but a lot is expected of the Portuguese star.

All eyes will be on Ronaldo this Saturday when the Old Lady face Chievo in their season-opener and the Portuguese's debut. 

 


NEW ERA FOR BARCA

Andres Iniesta’s departure has left a huge hole for the Catalans to fill. His captain's armband has been taken by Lionel Messi, not a bad replacement, but there is still a sense of a changing of the guard at the Nou Camp. Barca nearly went a whole season unbeaten last campaign, and did the domestic double at the same time. So it seems strange that there are question marks over Ernesto Valverde’s side. Ultimately, it is how the side does in the Champions League that will determine whether the season is a success or not, but the Catalans need to get off to a strong start in La Liga to perhaps settle some nerves.

Lionel Messi and his Barca team will have to learn to live without Andres Iniesta this season with their talisman now playing in Japan. 

 


ACTION FOR ARSENAL

It is not the end of the world to lose to Manchester City, as the Gunners did on the opening day of the Premier League last week. But the manner in which they lost understandably caused some worry about just how much of a rebuilding job new boss Unai Emery has to undertake. It does not get any easier for the Spaniard and his team as this weekend Arsenal are set to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It goes without saying that two defeats from two is not the ideal way to start a reign so it will be interesting to see how the north Londoners tackle the match against their city rivals. Emery has insisted they will not change their passing style for a more cautious approach, but such was their abject display last week that that could well lead to another defeat and the season’s first “crisis.”

The 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester CIty was not an ideal way to start the season for Arsenal. They face Chelsea on Saturday knowing an improved performance in the very least they have to put on. 

 


CAN ANYONE STOP JUVE?

The Old Lady has won seven consecutive Serie A titles. With the addition of Ronaldo surely an eighth awaits — all rather dull, isn’t it. But Inter Milan, with guaranteed Champions League income, have strengthened signing Stefan de Vrij and Radja Nainggolan, among others, and have managed to keep Croatia star Ivan Perisic. Napoli, now under Carlo Ancelotti have proved to be Juve’s main challengers the past few seasons and have no reason to believe they cannot do so again. Add in the improving Roma and AC Milan and the arguments for a compelling title chase are there. It will, however, be tough to topple Juventus.

Inter Milan may have only just scraped into the Champions League last season but they could well provide the big challenge to Juve this time around, not least if they can capture the signing of Croatia star, Luka Modric.