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Real enter semifinals despite two send-offs

Madrid: Jan 24, 2013 Reuters

Giroud, Podolski shine as Arsenal crush West Ham

Real Madrid survived red cards for Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria, and an injury to Iker Casillas, to draw 1-1 in Valencia, and qualify for the King's Cup semifinals 3-1 on aggregate on Wednesday.

Karim Benzema netted just before halftime to put Jose Mourinho's side 3-0 up in the tie, before Coentrao picked up a second yellow card for a handball in the 51st minute.  

Valencia pulled a goal back from the ensuing freekick when Tino Costa's low shot surprised Real's reserve keeper Antonio Adan. Adan had to replace Casillas in the 15th minute after Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa accidentally kicked his left hand while trying to clear a loose ball in the area. Casillas quickly underwent tests to discover the extent of his injury and the tests showed he has a fracture at the base of the first metacarpal bone of his left hand.

Di Maria picked up a foolish red card two minutes from time after kicking out at Valencia defender Joao Pereira as the two tussled for a ball. Real will face either holders Barcelona or Malaga in the last four. Barca visit the Rosaleda on Thursday with their tie level at 2-2. 

On the other side of the draw, Alvaro Negredo scored twice to help Sevilla past nine-man Real Zaragoza with a 4-0 quarterfinal second leg victory.

The Spain striker netted with a header and a penalty, while Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Manu del Moral grabbed the others to complete a 4-0 aggregate win. Meanwhile, Real president Florentino Perez angrily denied a report in Marca sports daily on Thursday that said there was a rift between coach Jose Mourinho and club captains Casillas and Sergio Ramos.

“As you can see I have changed my normal practice of not commenting on the club's day-to-day affairs,” a grim-faced Perez told reporters. “It is completely false that at the meal with the captains we had on Tuesday any kind of ultimatum was given regarding the coach or anything of the kind.”

Gunners sizzle

Oliver Giroud netted a double, Lukas Podolski scored and set up three more as rampant Arsenal closed the gap on the Champions League positions by thumping West Ham United 5-1 in their rearranged Premier League match on Wednesday.

Arsenal, finding a spark and much-needed self belief after successive league defeats by title-chasing Manchester City and Chelsea, ran riot with four goals in 12 mad minutes after the break.


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