Real Madrid beat Valencia 2-0 to close on King's Cup semis

Real Madrid put themselves on course for a place in the King's Cup semi-finals after securing a 2-0 first leg victory over Valencia at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.

Karim Benzema scored just before the break and an own goal from Andres Guardado in the 74th minute gave Jose Mourinho's side the advantage in the quarter-final ahead of next week's return at the Mestalla.

The winners go on to meet either holders Barcelona or Malaga, who meet at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.

On the other side of the draw, Real Zaragoza host Sevilla on Wednesday, and Atletico Madrid receive Real Betis on Thursday.

"It is a good result," Real captain Iker Casillas told reporters, "But the way forward in the Cup is very tough.

"We have the return leg away and after that, if we progress, a meeting with either Barca or Malaga, who are in good form. But the victory gives us a lift and helps us get over our frustrations in La Liga."

After a recent poor run of form which has seen Real slip 18 points behind league leaders Barcelona, Mourinho's name once again was met with a mixture of whistles and applause before the start of the 600th top-flight match of his career.

Brazil full back Marcelo was back in the side after almost three months out with a foot injury but first-choice centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Pepe were missing through suspension and injury respectively.

Luka Modric fluffed an early chance for the hosts and Iker Casillas pulled off a great reflex save to deny Jonas.

As so often happens with Real, a close chance at one end turned into a goal at the other, as Michael Essien burst away on a counter-attack.

HIGUAIN'S HAND

He fed Sami Khedira, who immediately laid off for Benzema and the hosts were 1-0 up in the 37th minute.

... contd.

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