Copa del Rey: Girona knock Atletico Madrid out in six-goal thriller, Real Madrid scrape through on aggregatehttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/copa-del-rey-atletico-madrid-vs-girona-leganes-vs-real-madrid-5542417/

Copa del Rey: Girona knock Atletico Madrid out in six-goal thriller, Real Madrid scrape through on aggregate

It was the first time Atletico Madrid conceded three goals at home since it moved to Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in 2017.

Girona's Seydou Doumbia celebrates scoring their third goal against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey with team mates
Atletico Madrid looked to be going through but for an 88th minute goal that took Girona across. (Source: Reuters)

Atletico Madrid crashed out of the Copa del Rey to Girona on Wednesday following a highly entertaining 3-3 draw at home to the Catalan side, who sneaked through to the quarter-finals on away goals after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate.

Atletico substitute Antoine Griezmann looked to have completed a late turnaround for Diego Simeone’s side, who were trailing 2-1 in the second half, when he put the hosts 3-2 up in the 84th minute.

Yet Girona forward Seydou Doumbia delivered a final twist in the saga by scoring at the other end four minutes later.

Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic had fired Atletico into an early lead but the packed Wanda Metropolitano stadium was stunned into silence by a jaw-dropping volley from Girona winger Valery Fernandez in the 36th minute.

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Atletico, already missing several first-team regulars to injury, lost Spain midfielder Saul Niguez to a muscle problem early in the second half.

They suffered another setback soon after when Cristhian Stuani headed Girona in front following a free kick, sparking furious but futile protests from Atletico, who claimed the Uruguayan had fouled their captain Diego Godin.

Griezmann came off the bench on the hour mark and soon threaded a pass towards Kalinic which Argentine winger Angel Correa squeezed under Girona’s goalkeeper to equalise.

Godin then hit the crossbar and Santiago Arias had a goal ruled out for offside as Atletico chased a winner.

France forward Griezmann prompted wild celebrations when he smashed into the roof of the net, but the mood was soon punctured by Doumbia, also a substitute, who poked home a shot from Borja Garcia to send Girona through and dump out Atletico, who have not won the Copa del Rey since 2013.

“It’s a magnificent achievement for the club to reach the quarter-finals and to knock out a team like Atletico, it fills us with satisfaction,” said Girona coach Eusebio Sacristan.

“We kept overcoming difficulties, we put everything into this game to get this reward. This will give us a huge emotional boost and we hope to make the most of it in the next few games.”

Atletico coach Diego Simeone added: “It was a wonderful game, a classic cup tie which we were always looking to win.

“We got the early goal and should have increased our advantage but Girona took their chances. We gave everything and sometimes you play well without qualifying, but I would always prefer to have played badly yet reach the next round.”

Lacklustre Madrid reach Copa quarter-finals despite loss to Leganes

Leganes' Martin Braithwaite celebrates scoring their first goal against Real madrid in the Copa Del Rey
Leganes earned a 1-0 win over Real Madrid but lost on aggregate. (Source: Reuters)

Real Madrid limped into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, losing 1-0 at Leganes with an another lacklustre performance yet advancing 3-1 on aggregate.

Danish forward Martin Braithwaite struck the only goal of the game on the half hour mark, knocking into an empty net from close range following a goalmouth scramble after the Middlesbrough loanee had headed against the post.

Leganes kept pushing for a second goal that would have put them back in contention in the tie but were repeatedly thwarted by Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas and their own inability to hit the target.

Madrid teenager Brahim Diaz missed a glaring chance late in the game to score his first goal for the European champions since signing from Manchester City, taking too long to get his shot away after being played in by Vinicius Jr. and striking the near post.

Real coach Santiago Solari recalled out-of-favour midfielder Isco to the starting lineup as well as Brazilian Marcelo, who was also left out of Sunday’s scrappy 2-1 win at Real Betis in La Liga, but rested most of his usual starters.

Isco appeared to be lacking in confidence and spurned Real’s best opportunity of a first half in which Madrid were out-run and out-fought by Leganes, who lacked the killer instinct in attack they needed to turn the tie around.

Solari, who fell to a fourth defeat in all competitions since replacing sacked Julen Lopetegui at the end of October, did not hide his feelings about his team’s display.

“It was a weak performance, above all in the first half,” he said.

“We made it through to the next round, some players who needed to play got their opportunity, but we did not play well.”

Defender Nacho added: “We would have liked to have won the game but we got through and that’s the most important thing.

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“It seems easy when you have a big lead from the first leg but sometimes you relax, you have too much confidence and you don’t give 100 percent.”