Atletico puts one foot in Copa final

Atletico Madrid virtually secured a place in the Copa del Rey final

after beating Racing Santander 4-0 in the semifinal first leg on

Thursday.

Atletico, which has reached the semifinals 17 times, scored

twice in each half at its Calderon Stadium against Santander, which

was making only its second ever appearance in the top four.

On Wednesday, Sevilla beat Getafe 2-0 in the other semifinal.

Atletico went ahead in the ninth minute, Simao Sabrosa

volleying in Sergio Aguero’s cross from the right. Jose Antonio

Reyes swept in the second in the 40th after the Santander defense

failed to clear a Sabrosa cross.

Diego Forlan converted a penalty in the 63rd, after Toni

Moral brought Jose Manuel Jurado down, albeit outside the area, and

another in the 72nd, following Marc Torrejon’s clumsy challenge on

Aguero.

Atletico started with some of the best attacking football of

its erratic season. In the seventh, Reyes crossed to Aguero, who

shot just wide. Seconds later Tiago Mendes struck the near post

from a corner.

Aguero was at the heart of things again in the 14th, when

Fabio Coltorti saved his close-range header from Tomas Ujfalusi’s

cross and the goalkeeper then just managed to push Forlan’s shot

from a tight angle on the left.

Santander occasionally threatened on the break and Oscar

Serrano had a fine shot from the left saved in the 16th.

Jurado replaced Reyes at the start of the second half after

the midfielder limped off with a knee injury.

Santander’s teenage forward Sergio Canales, who reportedly

has agreed to join Real Madrid, was put through by Moral in the

57th, though he was ruled offside.

Jurado should have scored a fifth for Atletico in injury

time, when he blasted over after Ujfalusi crossed following a

stunning individual play by Aguero.

Atletico withstood some late pressure to take its four-goal

lead into the second leg next week. The two teams meet again on

Sunday, in the league.