Atletico draw 1-1 at Valencia ahead of Barcelona showdown
January 9, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
VALENCIA, Spain -- Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Valencia on Tuesday to claim an away-goal advantage in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, just days before its key Spanish league clash against Barcelona.
Atletico midfielder Raul Garcia put the cup holders ahead by nodding in the ball following Vicente Guaita's goalkeeping error in the 72nd minute of the first-leg match.
But Valencia kept pressing and after being frustrated by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois on several occasions, Helder Postiga headed home the equalizer deep in stoppage time.
Atletico hosts Barcelona on Saturday with both teams level at the top of the Spanish league.
Atletico will go into that much-awaited game with an impressive record of 23 wins, three draws and one loss in all competitions this season. It had won seven straight games before this draw.
“They barely threatened in the first half, but I had a lot of work in the second,” Courtois said. “We tried to hold on for the win but at least we have the away goal.
“We know we have a great game ahead of us on Saturday.”
Atletico rested striker David Villa while center back Diego Godin was dropped from the squad at the last minute due to a physical problem. Atletico defender Juanfran Torres is suspended for Saturday's game against Barcelona.
Valencia remained unbeaten in two games under new coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.
Valencia kept the action in Atletico's half for most of the game, without letting Atletico striker Diego Costa roam free on the break. After a stalemate in the first 45 minutes, it needed all Courtois' goalkeeping skills to keep Sergio Canales, Pablo Piatti and Sofiane Feghouli from scoring.
But Courtois could do nothing when Canales played the ball wide for Feghouli to cross to the unmarked Postiga for the last-gasp goal.
“I think we deserved a little more, but we got the equalizer and the tie is wide open,” Postiga said.
The second leg will be played in the Spanish capital next Tuesday.