Barcelona holds off Real Madrid in Copa
BARCELONA, Spain -- Pedro Rodriguez and Dani Alves scored first-half goals, and Barcelona held off a spirited Real Madrid comeback attempt Wednesday night to eliminate the defending Copa del Rey champion with a 2-2 tie.
Following the ninth clasico between the rivals in nine months, Barcelona advanced to the semifinals on 4-3 aggregate and next plays Valencia or Levante.
Copa Runneth Over
This leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals was sublime, as Barcelona and Madrid ramped up the drama, Graham Hunter writes. Story
Barcelona doubled the lead in the 45th when a free kick by Xavi Hernandez, who was celebrating his 32nd birthday, went off Lassana Diarra and into the path of Alves, who sent a shot into the top far corner past the outstretched Iker Casillas.
Substitute Karim Benzema tied the score in 72nd.
"We played a great team, this is a 'clasico' so you know right up to the end you're going to have to suffer and hold off your rival," Alves said. "They caused us a lot of problems by pressuring high, but we knew how to respond."
Mourinho used a more offensive starting lineup than last week and opted to include defender Pepe, who was jeered loudly on every touch after stomping on Messi's hand in the first leg.
Mourinho was criticized after his tactics last week, causing some to question his future with Madrid.
Madrid was unlucky in the first half as Oezil hit the crossbar with a superb 30-yard effort, and Pinto made several point-blank stops on Gonzalo Higuain.
Madrid had a Sergio Ramos goal waived off in the 54th for a foul.
Earlier Wednesday, Athletic Bilbao beat Mallorca 1-0 to win on 3-0 aggregate, advancing to a semifinal against third-tier Mirandes. Valencia has a 4-1 lead going into Thursday's match at Levante.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press