Third-tier Racing Santander shrugged off their financial woes to win 2-0 at top-flight UD Almeria and reach the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey alongside holders Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Atletico compounded Valencia’s disappointing league campaign by knocking them out of the Copa 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 Racing president Angel Lavin’s box by unruly fans frustrated with the club’s rapid fall in the professional ranks.
Racing 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.”
Racing’s players have not been paid for three months, while the club has slipped down to 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 2011-2012 season and needing a cash injection just to stay afloat.
Racing now face either Villarreal or Real Sociedad, who are to meet today after a scoreless first leg.
Following their La Liga showdown with Barcelona, Atletico showed no dip in intensity against a Valencia side that has seen their form slide amid their 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 Estadion Vicente Calderon, where Valencia midfielder Daniel Parejo was sent off in stoppage-time.
“We want to beat every rival,” Garcia said after manager Diego Simeone fielded a largely unchanged side from the one that drew 0-0 on Saturday against Barcelona to remain co-leaders in the league. “We’ve got a squad that can play all competitions.”
Atletico will next play either Athletic Bilbao or Real Betis Balompie, with Betis going into yesterday’s game at Bilbao leading 1-0.
Real Madrid were nursing a 2-0 advantage traveling to CA Osasuna yesterday, while Barcelona are at Getafe today holding a 4-0 advantage.
In the tournament’s other last-16 matches, Levante UD are to host Rayo Vallecano de Madrid after a scoreless draw and RCD Espanyol will start 1-0 down when they welcome Alcorcon.