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© AP, Jan 19, 2012

Valencia beats Levante 4-1 in Copa del Rey


VALENCIA, Spain(AP) Valencia took a commanding lead in its Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Levante with a 4-1 home win over its crosstown rival in the first leg on Thursday.

After Levante playmaker Jose Barkero had to be replaced after just 10 minutes with an apparent leg problem, Valencia capitalized on a pair of errors to quickly go up 2-0 at Mestalla stadium.

The hosts recovered a ball inside Levante's half in the 24th for Jonas to tuck Pablo Hernandez's pass under goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Attack partner Roberto Soldado then added the second in the 31st when he tapped in a poor clearance by Javi Venta in front of the net.

Striker Arouna Kone scored in the 37th with a blast from the edge of the area to pull one back for Levante against the run of play, but Pablo Piatti re-established Valencia's cushion for good just before halftime when he reached Pablo's diagonal pass behind the defense and flicked it home.

The second half saw more bookings than scoring chances as tempers rose in the derby until Valencia midfielder Tino Costa scored in added time with a shot that took a deflection off a defender before falling behind substitute goalkeeper Gustavo Munua.

''The last goal gives us a good chance to get through the knockout series,'' said Soldado, who took his scoring tally in all competitions this season to 19. ''Scoring away had given them hope, so our last goal is worth double.''

The winner of the series will face either Barcelona or Real Madrid in the semifinals. Barcelona won 2-1 at Madrid in their first leg.

On the other side of the bracket, Athletic Bilbao downed Mallorca 2-0 at home, while Espanyol rallied to beat third-tier Mirandes 3-2 earlier this week.

The return legs will be played next week.


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