Atletico Madrid advances to Copa del Rey quarterfinals
MADRID (AP) — Angel Correa scored in the first half and Antoine Griezmann added two goals in the second as Atletico Madrid defeated Rayo Vallecano 3-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey with a 4-1 aggregate victory on Thursday.
Correa scored with a curling right-footed strike from just inside the area in the 40th minute, and Griezmann netted from close range in the 80th and in a counterattack in injury time.
Atletico has won 13 of its last 15 games, while conceding only five goals.
Also Thursday, Gary Neville’s Valencia secured its spot in the quarters with an easy 3-0 win at Granada, advancing 7-0 on aggregate.
Atletico and Rayo had drawn 1-1 in the first leg 1-1 last week, but the hosts were in control from the start at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Correa’s powerful shot flew over the goalkeeper and ricocheted off the crossbar before going in to give Atletico the lead. Griezmann flicked the ball home after a cross was deflected near the goal line, and followed up by rounding the goalkeeper and shooting into an empty net just before the final whistle.
“Rayo did well in the first 20 minutes, but we switched to a 4-4-2 and were able to create more chances,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.
The win came hours after FIFA announced it was banning Atletico and Real Madrid from signing players in the next two transfer windows because of breach in rules when registering players under the age of 18. The clubs can still sign players in the current window that ends in January, but after that they will have to wait until after the 2016-17 season. Both teams said they will appeal.
Valencia easily secured its spot in the quarters with goals by Wilfried Zahibo in the 42nd, Paco Alcacer in the 63rd and Pablo Piatti in the 84th.
“I’m happy overall with the performance,” Neville said. “We took advantage of our chances and scored the goals we needed.”
The quarterfinals will also feature defending champion Barcelona, last year’s runner-up Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Las Palmas, Celta Vigo and second-division club Mirandes. The home-and-away games are expected to take place on Jan. 20 and 27.
The draw will be on Friday.
“Most of the teams are in the top half of the (Spanish league) standings,” Simeone said. “Any of the opponents will be complicated.”
Real Madrid was eliminated early in the tournament for using an ineligible player.
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