Sevilla beats Villarreal to reach cup semifinals

Seville (Spain), Jan 19 (AP) Sevilla reached the Copa delRey semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons afterbeating Villarreal 3-0 yesterday and 6-3 on aggregate.

Villarreal needed victory at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadiumbut saw its hopes deflated from the 10th minute followingRenato''s opener.

Villarreal created opportunities but the holders put theoutcome beyond doubt with goals from Frederic Kanoute andAlexis Ruano within five minutes of the restart.

Sevilla plays either Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid next,with Madrid leading 3-1 after the first leg going intotomorrow''s match at the Vicente Calderon stadium.

Sevilla defender Sergio Sanchez returned to action forthe first time since undergoing heart surgery to correct acondition that sidelined the 24-year-old defender a year ago.

Sevilla is 10th in the league, while Villarreal is behindonly Barcelona and Madrid in the standings. However, theAndalucians remain unbeaten in cup competition.

Renato ensured Alvaro Negredo''s goalbound shot went overthe line as Sevilla made the most of a deflected pass thatstruck a Villarreal defender.

Jozy Altidore''s high shot in the 16th minute was one ofthe visitor''s few chances early on before it found its rhythm.

Teammate Gonzalo Rodriguez came closer with a header onto thecrossbar in the 26th, while Kanoute nodded a dangerous crosswide at the other end in the 33rd.

Ruben "Cani" Gracia then curled a shot wide of the farpost as Villarreal looked for an equalizer and Altidore led abreakaway in the 38th minute, with the United States strikerfeeding Giuseppe Rossi, whose shot was saved by Javi Varas.

Kanoute began to put the contest out of Villarreal''sreach, though, in the 47th minute when the Mali striker easilyreached Ndri Romaric''s corner to head home.

Alexis, who scored in the first leg, found the net againthree minutes later when he pounced on another corner fromRomaric.

After a weak header from Altidore in the 55th, the homeside controlled the game and kept alive its hopes of a thirddomestic cup since 2007.

Sanchez played well on his return to the game. TheSpanish player hadn''t featured since being diagnosed with aheart condition in early January 2010.

Another Sevilla player, Antonio Puerta, collapsed duringa 2007 league game and died three days later following aprolonged cardiac arrest at age 22. Espanyol captain DanielJarque died of heart failure in 2009 in his team''s hotel inItaly. He was 26.

Spanish league leader Barcelona is 5-0 up before today''ssecond leg at second division leader Real Betis, while Almeriahas a 1-0 advantage over Deportivo La Coruna. (AP) SNK

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