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Ronaldo propels Real Madrid into Copa del Rey final

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Published : 2014-02-12 19:28
Updated : 2014-02-12 19:28

MADRID (AP) ― Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid reach its third Copa del Rey final in four seasons with a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday and a 5-0 victory on aggregate.

Ronaldo, who was hit on the head by a cigarette lighter at halftime, converted a pair of early penalties at the Vicente Calderon to put the match beyond Atletico’s reach.

Atletico beat Madrid at its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to lift the trophy last season, but exits the domestic cup competition with doubts about its surprise Spanish league aspirations.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal on Tuesday. (AP-Yonhap)
Madrid will face either Barcelona or Real Sociedad in the April 19th final, with Barcelona leading 2-0 going into the second leg at San Sebastian.

“It’s the least important competition of our season but a final is always something nice for the team,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

Already trailing 3-0, Atletico was also missing strikers Diego Costa and David Villa plus goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defender Filipe Luis for Tuesday’s second leg match.

Despite Atletico coach Diego Simeone’s promises of a rally, the hosts were effectively out of the competition just seven minutes into the game when the inexperienced Javier Manquillo shoved Ronaldo from behind inside the area to set up the opening spot kick.

Ronaldo blasted his shot into the left side of net, past the diving Daniel Aranzubia, to end a three-game goal drought.

Raul Garcia, who was moved up from midfield to striker because of the absences, saw his shot come off the post just moments before Madrid doubled its advantage.

“The first leg was very important, of course, and the two penalties also,” Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas said. “They took some of their bite away.”

Atletico defender Emiliano Insua slid into Gareth Bale to set up the second penalty after 16 minutes, with Ronaldo beating Aranzubia to the same side but along the ground for his 34th goal of the season.

There was little drama beyond that apart from the yellow lighter that struck Ronaldo as he left for the dugout at halftime, which could lead to a fine or sanction for Atletico.

“Those two quick goals changed the face of the game,” Atletico midfielder Jose Sousa said.

Manquillo was taken to hospital after he came down awkwardly on his neck just before halftime.

Casillas extended his run to 863 minutes without conceding, a run stretching back to November in the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

Madrid has now gone 24 matches unbeaten, but it won’t have Ronaldo back in its lineup until its Champions League match at Schalke on Feb. 26. He will miss the next two league games as he completes a three-match ban.

England

Chelsea became the latest leading Premier League side to see its ambitions stall at West Bromwich Albion as a 1-1 draw prevented the leaders from bolstering their position on Tuesday.

Just like Everton and Liverpool in the previous two games at the Hawthorns, Chelsea was forced to settle for a goal apiece.

Having led through defender Branislav Ivanovic’s goal on the stroke of halftime, Chelsea’s defense left Victor Anichebe in too much space in the 87th minute to head West Brom level.

Chelsea is two points clear of second-place Arsenal, which hosts struggling Manchester United on Wednesday. Manchester City also has a chance to move to the top by beating Sunderland if Arsenal slips up.

From the top to the bottom, the Premier League has rarely been so open in the second half of the season.

West Ham beat Norwich with a third consecutive 2-0 win to complete its rise from 18th to 10th in eight days, but the London club is still only eight points from bottom-place Fulham.

Mohamed Diame’s cross was headed in by James Collins in the 84th and the striker netted himself in stoppage time after surging through on the break. Norwich is just 16th despite being only three points behind West Ham.

Cardiff remains mired in the relegation zone after being held to a 0-0 draw by Aston Villa.

At the other end of the standings, Southampton extended its unbeaten run to six matches after Jose Fonte clinched a 1-0 victory at Hull.

An initial header by Fonte was saved, Jay Rodriguez’s follow-up was thwarted but Fonte had another attempt that was cleared ― only for goal-line technology to show the ball had crossed the line.

Germany

A late goal by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday and a place in the semifinals of the German Cup.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s corner was headed over to the far post by Sebastian Kehl in the 83rd and Aubameyang sent a powerful header from close range past Sebastian Rode on the goal-line, with goalkeeper Kevin Trapp stranded in the far corner.

Until then, Eintracht had had the upper hand in the second half, after Dortmund had missed better chances in the first.

In Wednesday’s remaining quarterfinals, Bayern Munich travels to Hamburg, Hoffenheim plays Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen hosts second-division Kaiserslautern.

Frankfurt travels to Dortmund in the Bundesliga over the weekend.

Kehl says Dortmund “had the better chances” and “deserved to win.”

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