First blood to Atlético in Copa Del Rey semi-finals
Atlético Madrid took a massive step towards a 20th Copa Del Rey final with a narrow 1-0 victory against Valencia on Wednesday evening. The visitors gained some revenge for their Spanish Super Cup semi-final defeat earlier in the season after they handed the hosts their first defeat in 20 games, a 3-1 loss at the Camp Nou back in October their last defeat. The hosts made 3 changes to the side following their surprise 2-2 draw against Alavés at the weekend, with Daniel Wass, Denis Cheryshev and Maxi Gómez all returning to the side, Antonio Valencia, Nicolás De La Cruz and Joshua Zirkzee dropping to the bench.
Valencia began positively creating the first chance of note 10 minutes into the game. A throw-in from the returning Wass was picked up by Kevin Gameiro wide right, the striker taking a touch before swinging a ball into the danger area with his left foot. Strike partner Maxi Gómez did well to get above José Giménez in the middle, but unfortunately for the home side his header drifted just over the bar with Jan Oblak stretching to cover. 11 minutes later they went close again, this time Gameiro the main threat. A short goal kick by Cillessen was picked up by Diakhaby, and his ball forward to Maxi Gómez was flicked on to Gameiro, the experienced striker skipping round Felipe to break through into space before dragging his shot just wide of the upright with Oblak coming out to narrow down the angle.
Into the second half Valencia were again looking to break the deadlock from the back, a Diakhaby free kick inside his own half squared to Gabriel Paulista, who in turn played a short pass forward to Carlos Soler. The midfielder squared to midfield partner Yunus Musah, the youngster carrying the ball into the Atlético half, breaking down the right hand side where he was closely marshalled by João Félix, before firing a low cross into the area. Maxi Gómez looked to get on the end of it, but the impressive Giménez was on hand to clear the danger, as he was again a minute later when Cheryshev found himself in space on the left and again looked to pick out Uruguayan striker Gómez.
His second clearance proved to be even more crucial as the visitors launched a classic counter attack to take the lead. His clearance was eventually picked up by wonderkid João Félix, who drove forward before picking out Suarez on the edge of the area. The former Barcelona man laid off for Koke who clipped one into the area first time, Héctor Herrera finding space in the centre to poke beyond Cillessen who was rushing out to clear the danger.
It proved to be the last chance of note, with Atlético hanging on for a vital victory with the second leg to come next month at the Metropolitano. The hosts will be no doubt disappointed not to make more of their chances, Los Che enjoying 14 shots to the visitors 5 during the game. The league leaders will now look to bounce back from 2 poor results with a trip to face 11th placed Elche in 4 days time.Share this: