Sevilla run riot against Celta in Copa del Rey semis
Adil Rami opened the scoring just before halftime, then Kevin Gameiro atoned for a penalty miss by scoring a pair in a three-minute span in the second half as Sevilla took a commanding 4-0 lead over Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. Michael Krohn-Dehli's 87th minute goal may have been the dagger that finished the tie, as well as the match.
Winning their 12th straight at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and extending a run which has seen them lose just once in their last 18 games in all competitions, Sevilla beat the visitors with a combination of speed and tenacity and took full advantage of Celta's defensive lapses.
The second leg will be played next Thursday at Celta Vigo with Sevilla looking to advance to the May 21 final. Barcelona's 7-0 rout of Valencia Wednesday in the other first leg semifinal took the suspense out of that tie before that second leg next week. Because the Celta hosts Sevilla in La Liga Sunday, the teams will actually play each other three times in eight days.
After a tentative, cautious first 20 minutes the match came to life and both sides could have scored before Rami gave Sevilla the advantage on the stroke of halftime. Gameiro then produced two fine finishes after he was sent away on counterattacks and the match was decided as a contest just after the hour.
Sevilla had begun to get on top when Timothee Kolodziejczak had the first real chance in the 25th minute. He rose to a corner from the right and had his header palmed away by Ruben Blanco. The shot could have been better-placed but the space for Kolodziejczak presaged Rami's successful header 20 minutes later.
Sevilla wasted another opportunity in the 28th minute when Sergi Gomez hugged Vitolo to the ground and conceded a penalty, but Ruben bailed his defender out with a flying save to Gameiro's spot kick. It was not a poorly taken penalty, but Gameiro got it too close to the keeper and failed to get it high enough to beat the correct-guess and two-handed parry. He made up for that misjudgment later.
Then it was Celta's chance, Gomez meeting a cross from Fabian Orellana only to see his 7-yard header smack the crossbar at the top right corner on the half-hour, but that proved to be a rare opportunity for the visitors.
Sevilla regained control after that near miss and it was from their pressure, forcing two consecutive corners, that Rami was able to head them into the lead. He got above two defenders to meet Ever Banega's coss from the corner on the right, noding it down to Ruben's right-hand post.
Gameiro then made his amends for the penalty miss and staked Sevilla to what should be a winning position over the two matches.
His first goal was created by Krohn-Dehli, the Dane spotting his striker in position to win a 1-on-1 race with Jonny. Gameiro seized the opportunity, shrugged off the defender's futile challenge and lifted the ball past the advancing Ruben for a 2-0 advantage.
Ever Banega ignited the next counter, this time with a pass from Sevilla's own half of the field that split the defenders and gave Gameiro time and space to go in alone on the right. He beat Ruben to the near post in the 62nd minute for his 17th goal in all competitions this season.
Krohn-Dehli, like Gameiro, was alone to score against Ruben after a straightforward Vitolo pass that should have been cut out was allowed to reach him as he strode into space.
Celta, which had eliminated favored Atletico Madrid with a 3-2 win at the Vicente Calderon a week ago in the quarterfinals could not reproduce that road attacking flair Thursday night. Their best spell came midway through the opening half, but they failed to set up John Guidetti or Iago Aspas in dangerous positions.