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Valencia holds Atletico

Thursday, January 09, 2014

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 halftime 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.

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