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Barca, Betis, Espanyol win as only top division clubs reach quarterfinals

REAL Betis' and Espanyol's victories yesterday ensured the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey will feature only Spain's top division clubs.

Arturo Garcia scored in the 24th minute to lead Betis to a 1-0 victory over third-division club Real Union and a 2-0 aggregate score in the knockout competition. Union had beaten Spanish league champion Real Madrid earlier in the competition.

Espanyol ended the run of another giantkiller by beating third-division Polideportivo El Ejido 1-0 to advance on away goals after the two legs finished 3-3. Raul Gaitan's own-goal in the seventh minute was enough to eliminate El Ejido, which had sent Villarreal out in the last round.

Eidur Gudjohsen scored a 76th-minute winner to lead Spanish league leader Barcelona over Atletico Madrid 2-1 to advance 5-2 on aggregate. It was Barcelona's sixth straight win in all competitions.

Florent Sinama-Pongolle's 24th-minute header gave Atletico early hope at Camp Nou, where it didn't have to face rested regulars Xavi Hernandez, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry, who helped Barcelona to a 6-1 home win over Atletico in October.

But Bojan Krkic replied with a header five minutes later before Andres Iniesta's run along the left of goal set up the Iceland striker for the winner.

Atletico striker Sergio Aguero limped off with an apparent leg injury in the 72nd, just after Lionel Messi went on for Barcelona which will next face crosstown rival Espanyol as it goes for three trophies this season -- including the Champions League.

Vicente Rodriguez scored twice, including the winner in the 102nd, to lead defending champion Valencia to a 3-1 extra time win over Racing Santander.

Rodriguez scored a penalty in the 18th to give Valencia the lead and Gonzalo Colsa equalized with a bicycle kick three minutes later to send the game to the extra 30-minute period, when Joaquin Sanchez also scored to put Valencia through 4-2 over an opponent it hadn't beaten since September 2004.

Other top-division clubs to advance were Mallorca and Sporting Gijon, while Athletic Bilbao was to host Osasuna on Thursday with the clubs even at 1-1 after the first leg. That victor will play Sporting.

Sevilla cruised through to the last eight after a 3-0 win at Deportivo La Coruna -- its third victory over the Galician club in a week.

Jesus Navas volleyed past goalkeeper Fabricio Agosto in the third minute and Brazil striker Luis Fabiano took advantage of separate Deportivo defensive errors to score twice before halftime as the 2007 champions won 5-1 on aggregate to meet Valencia.

Both clubs finished the game with 10 men after separate second-half ejections -- Deportivo losing striker Omar Bravo and Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop.

Jorge Pina headed in a goal in injury time to ensure Sporting advanced 4-3 on aggregate despite losing 2-1 at Valladolid. Fabian Canobbio and Pedro Leon scored for the hosts.

Pablo Piatti gave Almeria hope of overcoming a two-goal deficit with his fourth-minute goal at Juegos Mediterraneos Stadium, but Mallorca's Juan Arango curled in a free kick in the 29th to ensure a 1-1 draw. Mallorca advanced 4-2 on aggregate and will next play Betis.

Espanyol's victory came in front of 4,325 spectators -- the worst attendance figure in club history.


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