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Barca held, Valencia tops Sevilla

DEFENDING champion Valencia overcame Sevilla 3-2 while Espanyol held Barcelona scoreless for the first time since August in a 0-0 draw in Copa del Rey first-leg quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Ruben Baraja made it 2-2 with seven minutes left in regulation, then Juanma Mata intercepted a pass deep in Sevilla territory for Valencia's winner.

Mauricio Pochettino began his Espanyol coaching career positively as the former Espanyol defender saw his charges prevent Barcelona from scoring for the first time since an opening day league defeat.

Spanish leader Barcelona, which has averaged over three goals per game this season, had won 13 straight road games in all competitions coming into the derby.

At Mestalla Stadium, David Villa put Valencia ahead in the sixth minute in a matchup featuring the last two holders of the domestic cup. Luis Fabiano scored in the 53rd to pull Sevilla even, then Adriano put the team ahead in the 68th with a disputed goal.

The Brazilian striker was at least a meter offside when Renato's tap-back fell to him to slot over Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Baraja collected the ball at the top of the area and moved through two defenders before beating Sevilla goalie Andres Palop with a hard shot to begin Valencia's comeback, which was capped by Mata three minutes later. Mata collected Ndri Romaric's errant pass on the right of the area and sent a deflected shot out of the reach of Palop.

Major gaffes have left referees under the spotlight in Spain this week, and Adriano's goal would have been another talking point if Valencia had not won.

Adriano's goal at least made amends after he sent an ill-advised pass back toward Palop that Spain striker Villa pounced on to round Palop and slide a right-footed shot into goal. Diego Capel's entry in the second half gave Sevilla a lift and Fabiano beat Guaita to the Sevilla winger's cross to head home the equalizer before Adriano put the visitors ahead.

Only Espanyol season ticket-holders were allowed entry into Olympic Stadium after crowd troubles marred the city rivals' last meeting.


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