Skip to main content

Real Madrid victory eases pressure on under-fire Mourinho

January 15, 2013 -- Updated 2254 GMT (0654 HKT)
Cristiano Ronaldo (L) congratulates Karim Benzema after the French striker opened the scoring against Valencia
Cristiano Ronaldo (L) congratulates Karim Benzema after the French striker opened the scoring against Valencia
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Real Madrid beat Valencia 2-0 in the first leg of their Spanish Cup quarterfinal tie
  • A strike from Karim Benzema and an Andrés Guardado own goal seal victory
  • Win eases pressure on under fire Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho
  • Inter Milan beat Bologna 3-2 with a goal seconds before tie went to penalties

(CNN) -- Defending champions Real Madrid trail arch rivals Barcelona by a massive 18 points in the Spanish League, so for the rest of the season their mission is to hunt down success in the cup competitions.

Such a gap to their Catalan cousins has heaped the pressure on Real coach Jose Mourinho, who must now focus on Spain's premier cup competition, the Copa del Rey, and the European Champions League for salvation.

All might be forgiven if he was to secure Europe's most prestigious club prize for a third time as coach, after previous triumphs with Portuguese side Porto and Italian giants Inter Milan.

At the very least Real's fans will expect him to win the Spain's second biggest domestic trophy, and a 2-0 win in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie was enough to quieten the protests against him.

Read: Ronaldo admits Champions League 'anxiety'

A strike from Karim Benzema and an Andrés Guardado own goal sealed victory on a chilly night in Madrid but Real rode their luck on several occasions in front of their vociferous home support.

A day in the life of Cristiano Ronaldo
Messi claims fourth Ballon d'Or
Boateng: We can't ignore racism

Cristiano Ronaldo, as ever, was at the center of most of Real's attacking thrusts in the early stages, the Portuguese striker firing a free kick narrowly wide of the post in the opening stages.

Luka Modric, signed last year from English club Tottenham Hotspur, then spurned a glorious chance to put Real ahead before Valencia's Brazilian striker Jonas twice went close in a matter of minutes.

His misses were to prove costly as Benzema then slotted home from Germany international Sami Khedira's pass inside the area on 37 minutes.

Real's fans began to get restless around the hour mark as Valencia began to dominate before Jonas shot wide of an open goal from 12 yards after Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas had parried Roberto Soldado's effort into his path.

Again, within minutes of a Jonas miss Real scored, this time Valencia defender Guardado putting through his own net from a Fabio Coentrao cross.

Ronaldo was then denied his 29th goal of the season by two brilliant saves from Valencia goalkeeper Vicente, who first repelled the striker's point blank shot from ten yards out before flicking a powerful strike round the post less than a minute later.

A 2-0 win gives Real a comfortable cushion going into the return leg in Valencia next Wednesday.

In the Italian Cup, Inter Milan had to rely on a goal seconds from the end of extra time to beat Bologna 3-2 and progress to the semifinals.

Goals from Fredy Guarin and Rodrigo Palacio put Inter in a commanding position but two goals in four minutes from Alessandro Diamanti and Manolo Gabbiadini pushed the match into extra time.

But with a penalty shootout looming Andrea Ranocchia's header crushed Bologna and sent Inter through to the next round.

In England's premier cup competition, the FA Cup, there were replay wins for Premier League sides Wigan, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke and Fulham, though Sunderland succumbed to second tier Bolton.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT