Atletico held by ValenciaAgence France-Presse . Madrid
Copa del Rey holders Atletico Madrid took a step towards the quarter-finals of this year’s competition despite conceding in stoppage time to draw 1-1 away to Valencia in the first-leg of their last 16 tie.
Raul Garcia put the visitors ahead 18 minutes from time after a horrendous goalkeeping error from Vicente Guaita.
Valencia, though, fought back in the final stages and after a series of fine saves from Thibaut Courtois finally found the equaliser when Helder Postiga nodded home Sofiane Feghouli’s cross in stoppage time.
Despite facing a top of the table clash in La Liga against Barcelona on Saturday, Atletico boss Diego Simeone named a strong side with only four changes from last weekend’s 1-0 win over Malaga.
And although Valencia had the majority of possession in the opening period, it was Atletico who created the better chances on the counter-attack as Guaita pulled off one fine stop to deny a fierce drive by Garcia.
Courtois was the busier keeper after half-time and produced his first serious save of the evening to parry Juan Bernat’s low effort.
The visitors were then gifted a goal as Guaita only succeeded in punching Gabi’s corner onto the head of Garcia who headed into the roof of the net.
Thereafter it was a masterclass in shot stopping from Courtois as he denied Pablo Piatti and Feghouli, while Sergio Canales also fired wastefully over from close range after the Belgian had parried another Piatti effort.
However, Valencia’s late pressure finally paid off when Postiga was on hand to turn home Feghouli’s cut-back to keep their hopes of progression alive when they travel to the Vicente Calderon next Tuesday.
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