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
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
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.