MADRID (AP) — Third-tier Racing Santander shrugged off its financial woes to win 2-0 at topflight Almeria and reach the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey alongside cup holder Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Atletico compounded Valencia's disappointing league campaign by knocking it out of the cup with a 2-0 home victory in the second leg and a 3-1 win on aggregate. Almeria enjoyed the away-goal advantage following a 1-1 first-leg draw at El Sardinero, a match better remembered for a player protest over wages and the storming of the president's box by unruly Santander fans frustrated by the club's rapid fall in the professional ranks.
Santander had already eliminated Sevilla and Mariano Sanz made the last eight look likely with his 62nd minute header. Ruben Duran secured the visitors' spot 3-1 on aggregate in the 79th as he ran onto a throw-in and tapped it up with his left foot before volleying home with his right on the run.
"These circumstances are making us stronger," Mariano said. "This is a way to fight back against all of these problems." Santander's players haven't been paid for three months. The club has slipped down to the third division in just two seasons following the exit of former owner Ahsan Ali Syed, who left the club in crisis, relegated from the top-flight after the 2011/12 season and needing a cash injection just to stay afloat.
Racing now faces either Villarreal or Real Sociedad, who meet on Thursday after a scoreless first leg. Following its Spanish league showdown with Barcelona, Atletico showed no dip in intensity against a Valencia side that has seen its form slide amid its own financial problems.
Valencia looked determined to try and stay in the competition but Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was again in stellar form, making a reflex save to stop Juan Bernat's rising shot just before the break.
Atletico took the lead in the 52nd minute when Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita misjudged a corner kick and the ball flew over him to the far post where Diego Godin rose above Antonio Barragan to head home.
Atletico midfielder Raul Garcia then found the post with a powerful shot just after. Although that seemed to awaken the visitors, they could only watch as Courtois denied them time and again. Raul Garcia sealed the victory by heading in Gabi Fernandez's corner in the 89th at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, where Valencia midfielder Daniel Parejo was sent off in stoppage time.
"We want to beat every rival," Garcia said after coach Diego Simeone fielded a largely unchanged side from the one that drew 0-0 on Saturday against Barcelona to remain co-leader of the Spanish league. "We've got a squad that can play all competitions."
Atletico plays either Athletic Bilbao or Real Betis next, with Betis going into Wednesday's game at Bilbao leading 1-0. Real Madrid is nursing a 2-0 advantage traveling to Osasuna on Wednesday, and Barcelona is at Getafe on Thursday holding a 4-0 advantage.
In the other last 16 matches, Levante hosts Rayo Vallecano after a scoreless draw and Espanyol will start 1-0 down when it welcomes Alcorcon.